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National Barkfly Recording Scheme (Britain and Ireland) Biological Records Centre
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National Barkfly Recording Scheme
Graphopsocus cruciatus (Photo: Susie Hewitt)

Barkflies

The order Psocoptera is one of the least recorded insect groups. This lack of recording is not because the species are rarely encountered – on the contrary; almost every tree in Britain is likely to be home to some of these creatures and psocids are far more abundant than some insect orders (e.g. lacewings).

One hundred species have been recorded in Britain which, compared to other insect groups, is not a dauntingly large number to learn to identify. There are two distinct groups: species that occur outdoors (the barkflies) and those that are only recorded indoors (the booklice). The barkfly recording scheme is only concerned with the former group of which currently 68 species have been recorded in Britain and Ireland.

A potential deterrent for studying a group is the lack of good identification literature. The Royal Entomological Society handbook covering Psocoptera has recently been revised (2005) and now includes keys for every species (bar two).

The lack of recording ensures that even casual recorders of the group have a good chance of making significant finds. Wherever you live you are likely to turn up species previously unrecorded in the area and may even find species new to Britain. Over the last ten years seven new species have been found and there is every chance that further species are waiting to be discovered.

This website was written and edited by Bob Saville. Keith Alexander has now taken over as recording scheme coordinator and welcomes your correspondence regarding barkflies (keith.alexander{at}waitrose.com).

News

  • Psocus bipunctatus is one of the British Isles' least recorded barkflies with only a single record from Kent appearing on the NBN Gateway. Thanks to Ingrid Altmann, we have added some excellent photos of the species to the website after she found it in her garden in Germany. (September 2013)

  • Summer 2012, with its excess of rain, has had a dramatic impact on barkfly abundance. All around the country barkflies have been difficult to find. This was particularly evident during the annual summer field meeting of the Dipterists Forum in late July, when a group of entomologists sampling insects for a whole week only managed to detect six species. Only Valenzuela burmeisteri could be found in any abundance, typically amongst the foliage of evergreen trees and shrubs, especially juniper. Graphopsocus cruciatus was the most widespread species found, albeit as singletons; the other species detected were Mesopsocus unipunctatus , Stenopsocus immaculatus, Elipsocus hyalinus and Loensia fasciata. (Summer 2012)

  • The Barkflies & Booklice (Psocoptera) of Cornwall & The Isles of Scilly is now available as a printed document or download (pdf). It contains all of the known records from the county organized by 10km square and has a brief assessment of the known habitat associations and local status. It is illustrated with a few tetrad distribution maps and some of Joe Botting's images of selected species. (July 2011)

Feedback is welcome. Please email BRC corrections to the website.

 

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