In the Aphid world, the Giant Bark Aphid has legs that go on for miles and has the honor of being the largest of its kind in North America.
Giant Bark Aphids are big as far as aphids are concerned, but they are still small insects. Females may or may not have wings; egg-laying females lack them. Males always have them. The long black wings have small white specks on them, and the red-orange and black legs are quite long. It is easy to mistake one for a mosquito. Mosquitoes are more hump-backed, and they overlap their wings when resting. This aphid has straighter posture and touches just the wing tips together when resting them. The bulbous abdomen is actually black, but it is often covered in a dusty gray or bluish white waxy secretion. This may make the abdomen look like it sports rows of black dots.
This insect only drinks the liquids from trees and is no threat to people. The type of tree greatly varies and is likely based on availability. Hickory, oak, pecan, walnut, sycamore, basswood, elm, maple, birch, chestnut, and willow are all suitable host plants. Females lay yellow fertilized eggs in cracks found in tree bark. These eggs overwinter, turning black as they age. Multiple generations are produced each year, but their feeding is generally not taxing to the tree.
What does create a problem is the sticky, sugar-laden excretion Giant Bark Aphids leave behind. This liquid excrement is called honeydew and it is only related to the melon of the same name because both are sweet. Honeydew gets left all over the tree on leaves, stems, and the trunk. The sugar in honeydew becomes mildewed, turning it black, and this creates a dark, sooty covering on those leaves, stems, and trunk. Before spoiling, honeydew can drip off of tree leaves onto things below it, like cars, patios, furniture, and other things left under a tree's shade. The subsequent mildew can ruin the finish on cars and patio furniture if left unwashed. For this reason, the Giant Bark Aphid is considered a nuisance.
Scientific Name: Longistigma caryae
Size (Adult; Length): 6mm to 8mm (0.23in to 0.31in)
Colors: gray, black, white, orange
Descriptors: rows black dots, plant, flying, black wings, mosquito, white, sucking, black powder, ash, long legs
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.