Tiny "Crablike" Bug With Striped Body And Long Pinchers In The Front, Kind Of Looks Like A Tick, What Is It?


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Connor Sephton answered
It would be helpful to know where you actually found this bug because habitat is very often a giveaway to what they could be. If you found it outside then it could be a bark louse; if you found it indoors it could be a book louse.

Even though they have been given the name lice, both book and bark lice (Psocoptera) are not parasites and are, in fact, free living insects. Their scientific name comes from the Greek psocus, to grind, and pteron, wing. This is in reference to their psocopteran jaws, which grind food like a pestle and mortar.

You can usually find bark lice in moist places such as underneath stones, in leaf litter, on vegetation or on or under tree bark. They have long antennae, wide heads, bulging eyes and have striped bodies. Their food of choice is lichens, algae, fungi and plant products such as pollen.

They are tiny insects: 10mm at the most but more usually less than 6mm and adults often have wings that they hold like a shelter over their bodies. They are sometimes mistaken for aphids but their antennae, heads and jaws are different to aphids.

Some species live in colonies under a gossamer sheet that they spin themselves from glands in their mouths; an ability that both adults and larvae have.

Book lice don't have wings and are smaller (less than 2mm). They feed on starchy products such as book bindings, wallpaper paste and even grain. They have been known to cause damage to museum collections because they like the minute traces of mold that can be found on antiquities, but both bark lice and book lice are otherwise harmless.

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