Bark Louse Nymph

2014 July 2

This one was a tiny insect (less than 3 mm long) that we found by beating the mulberry bush on July 12, 2013.

The black patches on the face look like eyes, but they aren’t. The eyes are further up on the sides of the head. It had the buggiest “bug eyes” I’ve ever seen on an insect. If the eyes stuck out any further, they would be on stalks.

This is something that we saw before, way back in 2009 – it’s a bark louse nymph, most likely Mesopsocus laticeps.

I can’t quite see the mouthparts in this next picture, but it looks like it chews its food, rather than sucking it the way that, say, an aphid would.

Unlike a lot of other things that are referred to as “lice”, these really are related to the parasitic lice that live on animals. Except that these live in tree bark, where they evidently eat things like fungus and lichen. I don’t think that they actually hurt the trees that they live on.

So, if you find these crawling on you after taking a nap under a tree, fear not. They aren’t after your blood. They are just looking for the fungus in your bark.

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