Thursday, November 26, 2009

What are These Bugs on My Deck?

We have started a new "'Bugs Help Line" to answer specific questions from our visitors. For instructions on how to submit your own questions about home and garden pests click here.

This question about swarms of bugs found on a deck was recently submitted:

We just noticed the bugs a week ago and they seem to be increasing rapidly. I've noticed that they only seem to be on certain locations all with one thing in common - some variation of man made plastic. They are all over the rails of our resin deck, on the plastic slide on my daughter's play set and the vinyl sheet covering our firewood (which is far from the house). There are a few locations on our vinyl siding that has them as well.

They are mostly darkish brown with a few reddish ones. They appear to have wings and hop or fly when I blow on them or touch the area around them.

Do you have any idea what they are and should we do anything about them?

These are called barklice, or psocids, but they are not related to true lice and are harmless. Barklice feed on the fungi that grows on surface of tree bark, or in this case on your deck. There's a related species called booklice that can be a minor nuisance/stored product pest in homes. No control is necessary and they won't damage your deck. If you clean the deck and remove the fungi/mold the barklice will go away. Various commercial cleaners can be used but ordinary laundry detergent will work as well as anything to remove fungi and mold.

Wood Destroying Insects

There are only a small number of insects that actually damage wood. Click here for a comprehensive review of wood-damaging insects in the US.

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