How to get rid of bark lice on trees

A Guide To Understanding This Bark Louse

The presence of webbing and a colony of small insects may indicate a bark lice infestation. “Bark lice” is the common name for Psocoptera. 

They are small brown insects feeding on the debris found on the bark of trees and shrubs.


Bark lice frequently appear on trees and shrubs with smooth bark, such as Crepe myrtle and oaks. 

They may also occasionally infest hardwood plants. 

Keep reading to learn how to deal with an infestation.

What Are Bark or Tree Lice?

Tree lice are insects often found on the bark of trees. 

While they are called bark lice, they are not lice. 

Unlike lice, Psocoptera is not parasitic or pests.

Psocoptera is one of the oldest species of insects, first appearing over 250 million years ago. 

Psocids are scavenging insects with long antennae and small chewing mandibles.

The critters only measure about 1 to 10 millimeters in length and resemble aphids.  

However, unlike aphids pests, they do not pose a threat to plants.

The telltale sign of bark lice is the development of webbing on the bark of the tree and a large cluster of shiny little insects. 

If the tree contains yellow or distorted leaves or black sticky substances, the tree most likely contains aphids instead of bark lice.

Psocoptera colonies often include hundreds of “lice” with a mixture of adults and nymphs. 

When the back lice nymphs mature, they develop wings. 

The wings are typically only used for dispersal when the colony is disturbed.

There are many species of bark lice found throughout the world. 

No matter the species, they have soft bodies and shield themselves with a thin layer of silk. 

The insects weave the silk themselves, and it eventually covers large portions of the bark of trees.

These psocids eat a wide variety of organic materials, including fungi and mold. 

They prefer moist environments and search for decaying matter.

Along with climbing on trees, Psocoptera often appears in moldy old books, leading to the common name “book lice.”

A colony of bark lice or book lice often indicates the presence of mold or fungal growth. 

In a way, these critters help homeowners identify potential issues in their gardens or landscapes.

What Damage Do Bark Lice Cause?

  • Bark lice do not cause damage. In fact, they are considered beneficial to the health of trees. 
  • As bark lice spin their webs and slowly spread across the tree trunk, they eat a wide variety of substances which may pose health risks to trees. 
  • Bark lice help clean up algae, fungi, mold, and dead plant tissue.
  • Outdoor bark lice are not an issue. 
  • Unfortunately, they may cause problems indoors. 
  • The insects may eventually work their way to the kitchen while searching for spoiled food.
  • If the insects gain access to any food containers, they may contaminate the food. 
  • This is the one potential risk with bark lice, and it only occurs indoors.
  • Indoor bark lice are incredibly rare. 
  • The most common way for these insects to appear indoors is on live Christmas trees. 
  • If the tree already contains a bark lice colony, the colony may stay on the tree as it is brought home and carried inside.
  • Once inside, the warmer air forces the insects to search for food. 
  • Without access to spoiled food or organic material on plants, the insects quickly die out.
  • The only potential issue with bark lice on plants is the appearance of their webbing. 
  • However, at the end of the growing season, the bark lice consume their own webbing. 
  • They clean the tree throughout the warmer months and then clean up after themselves.
  • Along with posing no health dangers to the tree, bark lice pose no health risks to humans and pets. 
  • These insects are not known carriers of any diseases and do not bite.

How To Get Rid Of Bark Lice?

As bark lice are not pests, the typical recommendation is to avoid disturbing a bark lice colony.  

Leaving the insects to complete their job benefits the tree.

Psocoptera do not bore into the bark or damage the leaves. 

They simply eat the organic materials growing on the bark of the tree.

While bark lice are not a threat, some people dislike the appearance of Psocoptera colonies on their trees.

To remove black lice, simply spray the tree with water. 

Almost any activity sends the insects flying away. 

The water also easily removes the webbing. 

There is no need to use insecticidal soap or other commercial pest treatments.

When disturbed, black lice tend to leave in groups, as with a herd of cattle. 

This behavior has led to the common names “bark cattle” and “tree cattle.”

Within a few moments, the insects may reappear in their original spot. 

In some cases, it may take several strong sprays of water to remove the colony from a tree fully.

The bottom line is instead of treating a bark lice infestation, the insects should be left to complete their cleanup job.

Beneficial insects in the garden: #21 Barklice (Archipsocus nomas)



Scroll Over Images and Click to Enlarge



FIGURE 1. Webbing produced by certain barklice (Archipsocus nomas) may completely envelop the trunks of trees as well as large branches. Oaks and pecan trees are most commonly affected in the Galveston-Houston region.



FIGURE 2. This silken webbing has a silvery sheen. Barklice feed on fungi, algae and other organic materials on tree bark.



FIGURE 3. Archipsocus nomas are brownish-colored insects that are gregarious and very small (less than 1/8 inch long).



FIGURE 4. Another closely related species of barklice may also be encountered in the Galveston-Houston region: Cerastipsocus venosus. (Specimen pictured above made a landing on a cap!)


Quick Facts

Common Name:


Genus / Species:

Archipsocus nomas and Cerastipsocus venosus

Type of Beneficial:


Type of Metamorphosis:

Immature stages similar in appearance to adults (i. e., simple metamorphosis)

Beneficial Stage(s):

Immature stages (known as nymphs) and adult stage


Fungi, algae, dead bark, and other organic materials on tree trunks and large limbs


Occur across the Galveston-Houston region; Archipsocus nomas is common and Cerastipsocus venosus is occasionally encountered


We have been alerted in our Master Gardener Training Course to be prepared to get calls during midsummer from homeowners who are alarmed about the appearance of mysterious webbing on the trunks of their oak trees! And, distressed homeowners generally want to know what pesticide can be used to get rid of the problem.

Fortunately, the webbing is not caused by webworms nor tent caterpillars, but by a harmless insect commonly known as barklice. It is important to understand that the common name used for these insects is misleading as they are not lice. Except for their very small size (less than 1/8 inch long), they do not even look like lice.

The species of barklice most commonly encountered in the Galveston-Houston region is the brownish-colored and gregarious Archipsocus nomas. They live together underneath the protective layers of silken webbing. The silk webbing produced by barklice typically appear in late summer (July and August). The webbing can completely envelop the trunk and large branches of a tree seemingly overnight. Its appearance may be associated with long periods of high humidity.

Barklice are small soft-bodied insects resembling aphids. Their web provides protection from predators while allowing the insects to feed. Although it gives the tree a ghostly appearance, the silk webbingas well as the insectsare harmless and will disappear during the onset fall weather. Barklice live on the rough bark of hardwood trees, particularly live oaks and oftentimes on pecans.

Another closely related species of barklice may also be encountered the Galveston-Houston region: Cerastipsocus venosus. Members of this species are noticeably larger and less commonly encountered than their web-forming cousins. Adults are about 1/4 inch long and have shiny black wings, which are held in tent-like fashion over their abdomens. Members of Cerastipsocus venosus are also gregarious and typically encountered as a colony.

You may wonder why barklice are being included as beneficial insects. As scavengers, they perform a valuable function in consuming excess accumulations of fungi, algae, dead bark and other materials that occur on tree trunks and large limbsin effect, they function as Bark Maids to help clean the bark of undesirable inhabitants.

Barklice do not eat leaves or the bark of the tree, nor do they damage the tree by boring into the bark. Although they may be viewed as unsightly, they are short-lived and harmless.

No control measures are recommended for these insects. Treatment is not recommended as the barklice are providing a beneficial service by helping Mother Nature to keep the bark clean and tidy!

Beneficials in the Garden & Landscape is an Earth-KindTM program coordinated through Extension Horticulture at Texas A&M University. Earth-Kind uses research-proven techniques to provide maximum gardening and landscape enjoyment while preserving and protecting our environment.


How to deal with aphids on fruit trees and shrubs

The fact that aphids are considered by summer residents to be one of the most malicious pests is no secret to anyone. There are several types of aphids - black, green, cotton, helichrysic, gallic. You can list the types of aphids for a long time, but the most important thing that worries gardeners is how to get rid of aphids on fruit trees.

Means for aphids on fruit trees

Gall aphid on currant

Folk remedies for aphids

What is dangerous aphids on plants

After the aphid settles on the leaves, the plant begins to hurt.

The danger of aphids is that the plant slowly dies, because the pests suck the juice from the cells. Along with this, the aphid releases a poison that “kills” the leaves. They get crowded and eventually die. Insect secretions clog the surface of the leaves, thereby disrupting the vital activity of the plant. Aphid saliva often infects the plant completely, harmful viruses cause extensive damage, trees gradually weaken and die.

If no action is taken to destroy aphids, then in one season it can destroy even the most well-groomed trees. The pest constantly multiplies, up to 50 generations can appear in a few months, therefore, if you find an aphid on a tree, you must immediately take measures to destroy it.

Means for aphids on fruit trees

Trees such as apple, peach, cherry are often attacked by aphids. Getting rid of the parasite on fruit trees can occur both by chemical preparations and by folk methods.

Spraying with chemicals is, of course, the most effective, as it can destroy the pest immediately. In addition to chemicals, there are biological preparations, they do not destroy aphids, but infect it, which as a result leads to the gradual destruction of all insects.

Effective drugs include Biotlin, Golden Spark, Fitoverm.

Folk remedies against aphids on an apple tree, peach, cherry and strawberry are solutions that can destroy aphids without chemical exposure.

Gardeners can spray plants with a mixture of sunflower oil and water, essential oils of lavender, cedar, pine, also diluted with water.

Gall aphid on currant

This type of aphid affects only currants, it mainly spreads on red currants, but can also settle on white and even black currants.

After wintering, larvae appear from eggs, their birth coincides with the appearance of young leaves in time. The pest feeds on the lower part of the leaf, so red swellings, the so-called galls, form on top.

Folk remedies for aphids

To protect plants from gall aphids, you can use not only chemicals. Folk remedies are also suitable for the extermination of insects.

Aphid spraying

Over the years, gardeners have come up with many recipes to help kill aphids. For example, after washing off the parasites from the leaves, you can spray them with soapy water. Laundry soap is rubbed on a grater and diluted with water in the proportion of 300 grams of soap per bucket of water. Ordinary soap can be replaced with liquid soap, it can be added half as much. Tar soap will need about 100 grams per 10 liters.

Herbal infusions

The fact that herbal infusions are not chemical agents does not mean that they can be used in any quantity. Strong concentrates can not only cause burns, but even destroy the plant. Some infusions can be dangerous not only for aphids, but also for other insects, and especially poisonous ones have a bad effect on the human body.

In order to use the solution on the entire site, it is necessary to test it on one or two plants. If the result met expectations, then you can spray the area completely.

Onion from aphids

One of the best herbal infusions against aphids can be called onion. 35-40 grams of chopped onion heads are poured with a liter of water and the infusion is kept for about five hours. After that, 5-6 grams of laundry soap are added, and then, the plants are filtered and treated.

Aphid garlic

Garlic infusion is made from 250 grams of heads per liter of water. Insist up to 5 days, apply 30 grams per 10 liters of water.

Aphid tobacco

For tobacco infusion, 250 grams of tobacco leaves are poured for several days with 5 liters of water. After that, it is diluted with water up to 10 liters and the plants are treated.

There are many folk recipes against aphids - marigold, chamomile, pine, pepper, citrus, sorrel.

Fumigation with smoke from aphids

The fumigation method is usually used in closed greenhouses, but it is quite possible to use it to get rid of aphids outside.

So, the method consists in the fact that in any metal dish you must first make a small fire from thin twigs, and then pour tobacco into it. It can be taken from cheap cigarettes or cigarettes. The smoke that pours out of the dishes can destroy not only aphids, but also many other parasites on plants.

Video how to get rid of aphids

This is not a complete list of ways to deal with aphids, which will help save plants. To get rid of parasites, it is worth using different recipes, and then repeat the treatment several times during the season.

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pests aphid

treatment, folk remedies, how to treat

With the onset of spring, gardeners and gardeners begin to have trouble. And often the cause of these troubles is aphids, which can cause great harm to fruit trees and shrubs. It is impossible to let the fight against these insects go by itself: aphids on trees multiply rapidly and infect young leaves and shoots. We will tell you how to deal with aphids without harming plants.


  • 1 What is aphid and why is it harmful to your suburban area

  • 2 Aphid prevention and control

  • 3 Folk remedies against aphids

  • 4 A few more plants to help you

  • 5 Biology for your garden: birds and insects against aphids

  • 6 Your helpers in the fight against aphids

  • 7 Chemicals, insecticides

  • 8 Aphid control video

What are aphids and why are they harmful to your summer cottage? They pierce the surface of leaves, buds or shoots with their proboscis and suck out their juice. Because of this, the plant weakens and becomes very susceptible to viral diseases. Several species of aphids live exclusively on the roots of plants, damaging them.

There are winged and wingless forms of aphids. Winged aphid colonies can spread up to 25 km with the help of the wind and lay eggs for the winter. Wingless breed asexually, the time of laying eggs is spring and summer.

In addition to the fact that aphids themselves harm plants, they lure ants, acting in symbiosis with them. Aphids secrete honeydew, a sweet substance derived from plant sap, which is very attractive to ants that protect the aphid colony from attacks by other insects.

Here are a few symptoms that will help you recognize aphids in your garden:

  • young shoots and buds are covered with black or brown aphid clusters that are visible to the naked eye;
  • on the underside of insect leaves even more;
  • white particles are visible among insects, this is old skin shed by aphids;
  • damage to leaves and buds is indicated by the fact that they are covered with sticky honeydew;
  • leaves that are affected stop developing, curl down and eventually dry up;
  • affected buds do not open, which means that fruits will not develop from them.

Aphids are detrimental to young shoots of trees

Aphids are omnivores, so their damage can be enormous. There are many species of aphids, almost any cultivated plant in your garden can become a host for this parasitic insect. Some species over time have adapted so much to the peculiarities of the climate and local flora that in the summer they live on vegetable crops - peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, and in the fall they move to fruit trees to ensure their wintering.

Aphid prevention and control

The most important preventive measures are carried out during seasonal gardening in autumn. First of all, be sure to cut and burn the affected branches and shoots on the tops of trees and shrubs. If you didn’t do it in the fall, it’s time to do the work in the spring, in preparation for the summer season.

Young trees and shrubs are especially vulnerable to aphids. Inspect them carefully before the onset of winter, and if you notice egg laying, after the leaves have fallen, properly spray the shoots with water at a temperature of 70-80 degrees. Do the same in early spring, before the buds begin to open.

Instead of hot water, you can use a solution of Nitrofen, 300 g of the substance per 10 liters of water.

Aphids most commonly infect fruit trees

Please note: a dark coating on the leaves may indicate that soot fungus has started in the honeydew. Due to the defeat of them, the plant loses its productivity. You can get rid of this disease only by destroying aphids.

Here are some more tips to help you get rid of aphids:

  1. Since aphids live in symbiosis with ants, it is very important to get rid of these insects. Water the laying of ant eggs in the immediate vicinity of the plants with boiling water.
  2. It is difficult for aphids to bite through elastic, strong and dense leaves. Therefore, regularly carry out abundant watering, top dressing, not overloaded with nitrogen, crown sprinkling and mulching. Sprinkling will help wash away the pad, in which the sooty fungus likes to settle.
  3. Remove root shoots of fruit trees in a timely manner. It does not bring any benefit, but only takes away the juice and strength from the tree. And since the branches and leaves on the shoots are very soft, they are especially susceptible to aphids.
  4. Old peeling bark is an excellent shelter for aphids hibernation and their laying. Remove bark and whitewash tree trunks to help kill pests.

Folk remedies for aphids

Although there are different types of aphids, the same methods can be used to kill them. Features are as follows:

  • vegetables should be processed no later than 30 days before harvest;
  • fruit trees are sprayed during bud formation, after flowering and 3 weeks before harvest;
  • Berry crops are treated before they bloom and after they are harvested.

Regular spraying will help get rid of aphids

The use of aphid control chemicals requires care and certain conditions. Therefore, many gardeners prefer to use folk remedies.

  1. Spray with soapy water. To do this, you need to dissolve soap in laundry water in a ratio of 10 l: 300 g. To make the soap dissolve faster, rub it on a grater.
  2. Ash and soap solution. Add about 300 g of ash to 10 liters of water, bring to a boil and dissolve 40 g of soap in the mixture.
  3. Take 1 kg fresh or 700 g dried potato leaves. It is very important that the tops are not affected by any diseases! Finely chop, pour 10 liters of water and infuse for 3 hours. Strain the solution and spray the plants with it.
  4. Chop 200 grams of onion with scales and soak in 10 liters of water for about 20 hours. Spraying with strained onion solution perfectly destroys aphids.
  5. Garlic, thanks to the pungent aromatic oils it contains, also helps in the fight against pests. Grind 200 g of garlic heads and leave to infuse for 2 days in 5 liters of water. Dissolve 25 g of this concentrate in 10 liters of water and spray the plants.
  6. Take 200 g of crushed dry tobacco (shag), pour 5 liters of water and infuse for 2 days. After that, strain and add another 5 liters of water. You can prepare a decoction in the same proportions, while the solution is infused for a day, and then boiled for 2 hours.

A few more plants that will help you

Nature "gives" us many pests, but it also gives us methods to deal with them. For example, an ordinary field dandelion helps to get rid of aphids on apple trees. It can also be used against suckers or spider mites. In the spring, when dandelions are just beginning to bloom, their green mass is collected for infusion, and in the fall, the rhizomes are dug up and stored in the basement, like carrots.

To make an infusion, you will need 400 g of leaves or 300 g of chopped roots. Fill them with 10 liters of warm water and insist for 2 hours. Strain and spray plants thoroughly. For apple trees, this procedure must be carried out twice: during bud break and after flowering.

If you add more garlic and pepper to dandelion, the infusion will become more effective. Pass 400 g of dandelion leaves and roots through a meat grinder along with 200 g of garlic, add a tablespoon of pepper and dry mustard. Pour 10 liters of water and leave for 2-3 hours. This solution is excellent for both apple aphids (including gourds and cabbage), and ticks.

Dandelion will be an excellent helper in the fight against pests

Plum is the most susceptible to attack by aphids, and not only because of sticky leaves, but also because of the many basal young shoots hatching every spring. Be sure to delete them! And, even if you didn’t notice aphids on the surface of the hotbed, spray the plum tree. To do this, you can use the tops of tomatoes. Grind 5 kg of fresh or 2 kg of dried tops, pour boiling water and keep for 30 minutes on low heat. After the solution has cooled, strain it, dilute 3 liters of infusion and 30 g of laundry soap in 10 liters of water.

Not only for fruit trees - apples, pears, plums, cherries, but also for flowering shrubs, such as lilac, bird cherry, jasmine, spraying with coniferous infusion is very useful. For it, you will need 2 kg of needles of spruce, pine of one-year growth. Fill them with 8 liters of water and insist for a week in a cool, dark place, stirring daily. The resulting spray solution must be diluted in a ratio of 1 liter per bucket of water.

Biology for your garden: birds and insects against aphids

So that aphids do not annoy your garden, you need to call on allies of insects and birds, which are the main enemies of pests. The most harmful to aphids are:

  • ladybugs, and especially their larvae;
  • lacewings;
  • ground beetles;
  • hoverflies;
  • predatory bugs;
  • wasps;
  • sparrows;
  • beetles;
  • warblers;
  • tits;
  • wrens;
  • hemp.

Plant spicy and fragrant plants such as dill, parsley, cloves, carrots, and nettles to attract aphids to your yard. Ladybug is very fond of calendula, which in addition will help decorate your garden.

Ladybug is one of the main enemies of aphids

Birds mainly feed caught aphids to their chicks. To attract birds to the site, install feeders, birdhouses and drinkers in accessible places.

Many plants have properties that either repel or attract aphids. This can also be used to kill pests. Plant flowers such as petunia, begonia, mallow, cleoma and nasturtium away from vegetables and trees - aphids will concentrate their attention on them and be distracted from garden plantings. Of the trees, such plants include bird cherry, linden and viburnum.

Please note: in autumn, after the end of flowering, all plants that you have planted to attract aphids on them are subject to mandatory cleaning and destruction. Either burn them or take them outside the site, otherwise the aphid masonry will overwinter in convenient conditions, and in the spring will bring you trouble again.

Marigolds, garlic and onions, fennel, Dalmatian chamomile, mint and coriander, on the contrary, repel aphids with their sharp spicy odors, so it will be useful to plant them in beds and between rows in the garden.

Your assistants in the fight against aphids

Chemicals, insecticides

The lack of folk remedies in their short-term effect, so you often have to turn to chemicals. The simplest remedy is liquid soap or dishwashing detergent. Its solution is easily applied on low shrubs, washing aphids off the leaves and covering the surface with a thin protective film. But more often you have to resort to more stringent methods.

Chemical agents are:

  • contact;
  • intestinal;
  • system.

Prevent aphids from breeding on your fruit trees

Each species has positive and negative sides.

  1. Contact agent will immediately help the plant, because it kills the pest, penetrating through its covers. But the surviving aphid, sensing the danger, begins to multiply instantly.
  2. Intestinal preparations enter the digestive system, poisoning the insect. Usually they are used together with contact ones to enhance the effect of both.
  3. Systemic preparations make plant sap poisonous to pests by penetrating the leaf tissues. They are well suited for processing trees and are quickly absorbed, so they are not afraid of rain. But the effect may appear in 2-3 weeks. Fruit trees will survive this period, but for flowers. For example, roses, this delay can be fatal.

However, it is better to resort to chemical treatment in the most extreme cases. They destroy not only harmful aphids, but also predators that feed on them. In addition, pests quickly develop resistance to drugs, so they need to be replaced. Do not treat plants during the flowering period - this will harm pollinating insects.

Aphid control video

Now you know how to get rid of the aphid pest.

Learn more