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Photo#41052
Tiny dead bug snackers - Liposcelis

Tiny dead bug snackers - Liposcelis
Hudson, Hillsborough County, New Hampshire, USA
January 11, 2006
Size: 1 mm
Found these minute, dorso-ventrally flattened critters in dead insect duff from inside glass shade of ceiling light on screened porch. Several were inside one dead lady beetle but none were found inside several other dead insects I cracked open. I assumed they were eating the insect remains.

After spotting one with hand lens as I inspected duff for dead beetles, photographing it, then losing it, I searched for others hiding in this material, collecting at least six more that I am keeping to observe. The technique that worked best for me was to stir and jostle the duff with the end of my camel hair paintbrush, then paw most to one side and look with hand lens for specimens that had become dislodged. Some hurriedly tried to find new shelter, but most took the wait-and-see tactic. I picked them up with the licked-toothpick-tip method (an adaptation of my normal licked-fingertip method) since they were so tiny.

Note that they have well developed rear femurs, and I think a couple individuals used them when I tried to pick them up, suddenly vanishing from sight. They also have a decent number of antennomeres and distinct side-mounted eyes, making me think they are not larval. I have considered that they could be some type of flightless, elytra-less beetle that comes in petite sizes, but odds are they are something else altogether. In fact, in my photo file names I committed only to calling them hexapods.

I was expecting to find dermestids in the duff, and did find one bristly little guy walking erect, albiet hind-end in the air, owing to the static charge in my tupperware sandwich container. I also saw several larger shed dermestid skins. The duff collected in this one-bulb shade contained about 400 tiny beetles from 15 or more families -- most of them well preserved -- which I will be posting on separately.

Question (aside from the obvious "What are they?"): How did they get into the ceiling light shade? Did they smell the food source and crawl up the wall, across the ceiling and drop down into the shade?

Images of this individual: tag all
Tiny dead bug snackers - Liposcelis Tiny dead bug snackers - Liposcelis Tiny dead bug snackers - Liposcelis Tiny dead bug snackers - Liposcelis

Moved
Moved from Liposcelis.

Liposcelis, Section II sp.
Ed Mockford det.
Moved from Book Lice.

 
Thank you, Belov.
Indefatigable, that's you :-)

Psocopterans
Booklice. The do, or used to, feed on the starch based glues used in book bindings. They can also get into lepidoptera collections where they will eat the wings. Great crawlers so I expect they simply crawled into your ceiling shade. Must have a great sense of smell as they have got into my closed drawers housing leps.
The thickened hind femora indicate that yours are Family Liposcelidae.

 
Thanks for solving the mystery, Tony!
I figured if they would eat insect remains, they must be familiar to serious insect collectors.

Since they reputedly like starch, I'll see if they go for rolled oats. So far I've only offered them a pellet of shrimp-based fishfood.

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