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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

  • The introduced South American Chilenocaecilius ornatipennis continues to expand its range and is already widespread across much of Ireland and western Britain. Knowledge of its current distribution has been published in Entomologist's Monthly Magazine (155: 212-213). It will be interesting to see how far eastwards it spreads over the coming years.

  • Another addition to the British fauna has been discovered earlier in 2020 - Mesopsocus punctifrons. Both males and females have been found by Duncan Sivell in the garden at the Natural History Museum in London. It appears to live the foliage of a wide range of trees and shrubs and is known from a number of countries around the Mediterranean. The discovery will be formally announced in the literature and Duncan will be updating the on-line keys in due course.

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

 

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