The tiny Beech Blight Aphid resembles a tuft of cotton, and in great numbers, can leave a plant high and dry.
Beech Blight Aphids can be found on the twigs, leaves and branches of a variety of deciduous trees, but the beech tree is a popular hang out. They are white and fluffy, as if small bits of cotton or white wool have been glued to their bodies. This hairy substance is actually made of strings of wax that the aphid secretes onto itself. The texture of the wax is thought to be unappealing to beetles and wasps that might eat it. It is also an efficient way of reducing the loss of water by providing a hydro-phobic barrier that prevents evaporation.
Beech Blight Aphids tend to be found in clusters and may at first be overlooked as a fungus or lichen. Like other aphids, they use their mouth parts to drain their host plant of its juices. They then produce a sticky, sweet substance called "honeydew" from the plant juices once they eliminate it. Honeydew is a sweet, attractive food source for ants and, therefore, it is likely to find ants in the vicinity of aphids in order to harvest the sap-like excretion.
Though the Beech Blight Aphid is tiny compared to other insects, in large numbers they have the potential to devastate plant populations. Aphids are rapid reproducers and can dry out and kill large swaths of trees if left unchecked. Controlling their population is done naturally by the wasps and beetles that eat them. Chemical sprays are also available that specialize in killing aphids of many species though it is usually more practical for use on smaller house plants and garden plants.
Scientific Name: Grylloprociphilus imbricator
Cicada and Similar
Size (Adult; Length): 2mm to 4mm (0.08in to 0.16in)
Note: An insect's reach is not limited by lines drawn on a map and therefore species may appear in areas, regions and/or states beyond those listed above as they are driven by environmental factors (such as climate change), available food supplies and mating patterns. Grayed-out selections indicate that the subject in question has not been reported in that particular territory. U.S. states and Canadian provinces / territories are clickable to their respective bug listings.