I've been blown away by the number of emails lately related to Bark Lice! This is the eerie web covering the trunk of many trees in the Houston area. It's been several years since we've had such an infestation of these little bugs, and calling it an infestation, is also a horrible disservice to these beneficial insects. That's right, I said "beneficial." As creepy as the we seems, it's a protective barrier for the bark lice to do their job, and that job is to essentially clean up your tree trunk.
So, obviously, don't panic and put away any insecticide or garden hose you are tempted to pull out and spray on this unique garden critter. It may seem hard to fathom, but the bark lice is not a threat to any tree in any way, and just as mysteriously as it APPEARED, it will DISAPPEAR too in matter of a couple of weeks.
The bark lice phenomenon occurs suddenly and frequently overnight. You walk out to get the morning paper and there it is. Just yesterday, that same tree looked perfectly normal.
The bark louse's favorite target is rough-barked hardwoods. The little critters are beneficial because they scour the bark for fungi, spores, pollen, lichen and other debris. While dining, they spin a web for protection. Once they are done with a tree, the web usually disintegrates within a week.
Bottom line: you donít need to do anything. In fact, if you try to spray the web with an insecticide, it will bounce right off, and if you do penetrate the webbing, remember you're killing off a beneficial insect. So, enjoy the creepy web and take a closer look at the tiny little army of bark lice underneath that sheen of webbing!
Until next issue, here's to Great Gardening from the GardenLine, heard exclusively, 6-10 a.m. Saturdays and 7-10 a.m. Sundays, only on NewsRadio 740 KTRH.
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