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Woolly Aphids

10-8-13 woolly aphid 001Woolly aphids are just that – aphids that have special glands that produce wax-like filaments which resemble white wool. When the “wool” is brushed aside, the dark aphid bodies below are apparent. Colonies of woolly aphids often congregate in cottony masses while sucking the sap of a host plant or tree, at which time they are somewhat camouflaged in that they can easily be mistaken for mold or a fungus. When woolly aphids take flight, the wax strands catch the wind and allow them to drift , allowing them to look more like seeds than edible prey.

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10 responses

  1. Dianne and Ed

    Oh Mary, you ENLIGHTEN my world…… In grateful thanks, Dianne

    October 8, 2013 at 12:26 pm

  2. Robyn Deveney

    Every fall I see tiny, bluish-white insects flying about. They resemble fruit flies with cashmere sweaters. Are those the aphids that have taken flight? (The only term I have ever heard for them is “luck bugs…” pretty sure that is neither the common nor the Latin name!)

    October 8, 2013 at 1:00 pm

  3. Kathie Fiveash

    Can they actually fly? I didn’t know that aphids have wings.

    October 8, 2013 at 1:21 pm

    • Kathie, apparently when they’ve gotten most of the nutrition available from the plant, or when too many aphids crowd onto one plant, some species of aphids produce winged offspring (winged so that they can disperse to other plants).

      October 8, 2013 at 2:07 pm

  4. viola

    So that’s what it is. I never suspected. I see it (them) frequently.

    Ditto the comment above… “you ENLIGHTEN my world,” too. Such a treat to find in my e-mail box.
    Viola

    October 8, 2013 at 1:48 pm

  5. Al Stoops, Nelson NH

    These look like the ones I see on speckled alder (and that looks like a speckled alder twig).

    October 8, 2013 at 5:44 pm

  6. Marilyn

    Similar to, but different from, cottony maple scale?

    October 9, 2013 at 12:59 pm

    • Exactly, Marilyn. Aphids and scale insects are very closely related — same order (Hemiptera) and same suborder (Sternorrhyncha) — both are sap sucking insects some of which produce waxy threads in order to camouflage themselves.

      October 9, 2013 at 4:30 pm

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