Tuesday, May 10, 2011


A couple of weeks ago I found this super tiny (2mm) powdery-looking winged insect. It was cleaning itself as it rested on an eastern cedar tree in my backyard. Because of its size it was very difficult to photograph and I only managed a couple of decent shots. I had no idea what this little guy was so I submitted the image to bugguide.net and within minutes had an answer.....Dusky-wing. They are in the family of insects known as Coniopterygidae, and are very difficult if not impossible to identify beyond the family level without having the specimen in hand and using a microscope to look for key characteristics. To further complicate things, there are 8 genera and 55 species within those genera. They can be found throughout all of North America, but are often overlooked because of their tiny size and secretive nature. 

The wings are held over their back in a tent-like fashion and are covered in a white powdery substance.They have a beak-like mouth that they use to feed on other insects, especially aphids, mealybugs,white-flies, scale insects and other soft-bodied arthropods. 

They are most active in the early morning and evening hours during autumn and spring. After mating, the female will lay eggs singly on the leaves of plants. There may be two generations per year and the last generation will overwinter as larvae. 

Because of their preference for eating harmful insects like aphids and white-flies, these tiny insects are hugely beneficial to the garden. Although easily overlooked, rest assured they are out there working hard to gobble up as many injurious insects as their little tummies will hold.


  1. It is amazing the things that just "happen" when you are observant. Except for its nose this is a pretty little creature.

  2. okay, 1) SOOOOO TINY!!!!! CUTE!!! 2) totally looks like it'd blend in like MAD with white fly so maybe that's why they are powdery? Great stuff. SO glad you posted this. Love the charming-yet-frequently-overlooked.

  3. this tiny little creature bit me and left a bad mark on my leg, and it felt like a needle going in my leg for a while so don't let this tiny little creature fool you it has a painful bite and leaves a mark like you have been bit by a spider and I know this bug bit me because I saw it on my leg where my wound is at. So beware of this bug and don't let it bite you because it really hurts bad.

    1. I just got bit by one today on my face! What did you do to make it stop hurting?:

  4. the same person who got bit by this tiny bug, I now have a scar on my leg from this bugs bite. be careful when you get close to one or one get on you they really do hurt when they bite.

  5. Oh snap! This explains a few bites. I found one in my home. I'm not surprised to find it there as I've seen both silverfish and whiteflies in my house (it's very humid and full of books). I wasn't getting bit by anything consistently, just once in a while. I think I might have some of these lurking around my home. Oh well, they can stay as long as they eat the bugs I don't like!