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Emilie Bess and Kevin P. Johnson
Containing group: Psocetae


The family Psilopsocidae contains one genus, Psilopsocus, with 7 species.  They are found only in Southeast Asia and Australia.

Psilopsocids are medium to large-sized bark lice (3.5-4.5 mm).  Adults live on the surface of bark and nymphs bore into wood.  These are the only known wood boring psocids.



General Characters

How to Know the Family

Discussion of Phylogenetic Relationships

There has been no phylogenetic analysis of relationships within the family Psilopsocidae. 

The relationship of Psilopsocidae and other families of Psocetae is not well understood.  It was long assumed that Psilopsocidae is most closely related to Myopsocidae (Mockford 1961), but recent analyses bring this relationship into question.  In two studies of Psocomorpha that each included only one species of Psilopsocus, the family was found to be sister to Hemipsocidae with molecular data (18S rDNA; Johnson et al. 2004), and was placed as sister to Psocidae in morphological analysis (Yoshizawa 2002).  Psilopsocidae continues to be considered "one of the least known and most controversial families" within Psocomorpha (Yoshizawa 2002).

Other Names for Psilopsocus


Johnson, K. P. & E. L. Mockford. 2003. Molecular Systematics of Psocomorpha (Psocoptera). Systematic Entomology 28: 409-40.

Johnson, K. P., K. Yoshizawa, and V. S. Smith. 2004. Multiple origins of parasitism in lice. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B 271:1771-1776.

Lienhard, C. and C. N Smithers. 2002. Psocoptera (Insecta) World Catalogue and Bibliography. Muséum d'Histoire Naturelle, Geneva, Switzerland.

Mockford EL. 1961. The rediscovery and probable phylogenetic position of Psilopsocus (Psocoptera). Psyche 68: 38-44.

Mockford, E. L. 1993. North American Psocoptera (Insecta). Gainesville, Florida: Sandhill Crane Press.

New, T.R. and S.S. Leed. 1984. A new species of Psilopsocus Enderlein (Psocoptera: Psilopsocidae) from Malaysia. Journal of the Australian Journal of Entomology 30: 63-65.

Smithers, C.N. 1963. Psilopsocus mimulus sp.n. (Psocoptera: Psilopsocidae), representing a family new to Australia. Journal of the Entomological Society of Queensland 2: 56-59.

Smithers, C. N. 1996. Psocoptera. Pp. 1-80, 363-372 (Index) in Wells A. (ed.) Zoological Catalogue of Australia. Vol. 26. Psocoptera, Phthiraptera, Thysanoptera. Melbourne: CSIRO Publishing, Australia.

Yoshizawa, K. 2002. Phylogeny and higher classification of suborder Psocomorpha (Insecta: Psocodea:'Psocoptera'). Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 136: 371-400.

About This Page

Emilie Bess
Illinois Natural History Survey, Champaign, Illinois, USA

Kevin P. Johnson
Illinois Natural History Survey, Champaign, Illinois, USA

Correspondence regarding this page should be directed to Emilie Bess at and Kevin P. Johnson at

All Rights Reserved.

Citing this page:

Bess, Emilie and Kevin P. Johnson. 2009. Psilopsocidae. Psilopsocus. Version 25 March 2009 (under construction). http://tolweb.org/Psilopsocus/14483/2009.03.25 in The Tree of Life Web Project, http://tolweb.org/

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