Beech blight aphids put on a show

by | Oct 22, 2014

What’s white, woolly and can be found dancing in the woods this time of the year? It’s not a kid dressed up for Halloween– it’s the beech blight aphid! They might give you a fright, but like a kid dressed up, they’re nothing to be afraid of.

The beech blight aphid is a piercing-sucking insect that feeds on the sap of beech trees. They primarily congregate in large colonies on the undersides of branches and leaves of American beech trees. Their populations build throughout the summer and are most abundant and conspicuous in September and October. The insects themselves are bluish in color, but they extrude a white woolly mass that covers them completely, and it may appear as if snow has covered the branches. Of course, the fall temperatures outside will make you second guess that assumption.

The beech blight aphid has some awesome dance moves that causes heads to turn. When disturbed, the aphids raise the hind end of their bodies and sway back and forth.  When grouped in a large cluster, it’s like a forest flash mob! This behavior has given the aphid the nickname of the “boogie-woogie aphid.”

They are rarely pests and control is typically unnecessary. So enjoy the show if you come across a group of these critters– they can be entertaining and don’t seem to mind showing off!  And turn up some music, especially if you’re listening to the Beatles!