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The webbing produced by bark lice looks bad but isn't harmful to trees. So put down your pesticide weapons.

contributed photo

In mid- to late summer, some trees get a ghostly looking silvery web around them.

This webbing, typically found around the lower trunk of trees and in the crotch of lateral branches, is produced by bark lice.

But there's no need to panic or run to the shed and scour your arsenal of pesticides to kill this web-causing insect. Based on appearance, the webbing might look harmful, but as concerned gardeners, we should always first identify the culprit.

In this case, the insect is not a pest.

Bark lice, classified in the order Psocoptera, is a beneficial insect. These small, soft bodied creatures range in length from 3 to 6 millimeters. They live under the webbing and may or may not have wings.

Even though it looks alarming, the webbing the insects produce protects them from environmental conditions and predators.

Here’s the good news: bark lice are in no way harmful to trees.

In fact, the insects feed on organic debris lodged in the bark such as algae, fungi, mold, pollen, fragments of dead insects and similar materials, which is actually good for trees.

So don’t worry about those webs, and put down your weapons when it comes to bark lice.

Got a question?

Email gardennews@agcenter.lsu.edu.