At a standing glance, the tiny red dots peppering a long-fallen branch resemble some kind of mold.

But lingering more closely reveals the minute movements of single-millimetered insects.

Contributors to Bug Guide and What’s that Bug? identify similar looking critters as tube-tailed thrips.  They are red when young, slightly larger and black when mature.


Here on the rounded branch, prevalent red nymphs penetrate a pillared forest of milli-fingered fungus, embed themselves in the wrinkles of a leaf-scar mountain, and descend a darkling canyon in the failing bark.

Simply spinning their horizon in hand reveals another fantastic geography:


Red thrips slip over frigid-hued pillars of fungus, stare down a yawning black crevasse, and lap at a glacial blue lake.

Just click to zoom on each picture and explore this huge little world.