Attack Of The Wooly Aphids!!

I grew up in a culture where “man has dominion over the earth,” in other words, I was surrounded by the all too ignorant view that humans had the right to tell Mother Nature what to do. If there was some creature that didn’t suit our liking, it must be controlled or killed. Not much effort was made to learn about what the creature might be or what role it might play in the fabric of the Universe. Consequently, as a child I did lots of nasty things to various insects and other creepy crawlies. Some of those errant deeds could, I suppose, be attributed to being a boy. As I look back, though, I’m convinced I was being taught to be oblivious to the ways of Nature.

Let’s take spiders, for example. Take them!! PLEASE!! No, not really. Spiders are my friends these days; although I still get the heebie jeebies when they crawl on me by surprise. In the past, I’d kill them on sight. After learning more, I realized they are a vital part of our ecosystem. I see them scurrying about in the garden while I’m weeding the veggie patch, and I make sure they have safe travels. They eat lots of pests that would love to eat my veggies!

Mosquitoes… not my friends. We live in a swamp, which always provides us with a healthy mosquito crop during the warm months. I kill them when they come near or if they bite; but I do NOT spray the yard as a remedy. Why? Because yard insecticide sprays kill much more than mosquitoes. They also kill predatory insects like dragonflies that eat the mosquitoes. And of course they kill bees and other pollinators. Not sure why the Universe decided we need mosquitoes, but I do know that they provide food for lots of other creatures. There are oodles of other examples but I think it’s time to switch a bit and start following the lead of the title of this silly blog entry.

So what about this silly Attack Of The Wooly Aphids??

Well there I was, 676 ft above sea level (I looked up our elevation), minding my own business, when a little white fluffy thing fell from the trees. This started happening about a week or so ago, and now we have hundreds of little white fluffy tufts all over the place… on the sidewalk, the lawn, the deck. No idea what they were. We guessed maybe the trees were sending out little floofy seed things like what we got in early spring; but they didn’t look the same at all. Well then I was walking out on my way to the garden and one of these fluffy thing floated past my nostrils. Actually it did more than float. It was flying. The little fluffy white thing had a tiny pilot and was heading westward!!

On to the interwebs I went to search for answers. Didn’t really take much time before I learned that our little fluffy piloted zoomers (well they don’t really zoom…) are in fact wooly aphids. Say huh?? Yes, that’s right. They are wooly aphids. More specifically, they are wooly alder aphids. They live like other aphids, which means they are plant vampires. Plant sap is their food. They need to feed on both maple trees and then alders to complete their life cycle, hence the name. When they’ve had their fill of maple sap, they fly about in search of alders. Not sure what purpose Mother Nature has set aside for these interesting creatures, but everything I’ve read about them says they are not harmful to the trees. They are, however, an important food for natural predators like lady bugs, lacewings, and predatory wasps. So yet another example of an insect that’s probably not well understood, but just because they’re aphids doesn’t mean we need to kill them. I found a close up picture of one for your enjoyment. Don’t be afraid, they are WAY smaller than what you see in the picture. It’s a close up, remember?

So next time you see a little tiny fluffy thing flying around, don’t worry. They are not really attacking. But hey, maybe the title caught your interest?

Worth a try.

Well let’s see what kind of silly bug videos are out there…