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Beech Blight Aphid (Grylloprociphilus imbricator)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Beech Blight Aphid

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Image Credit: Kevin K. from Rockville, MD
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The tiny Beech Blight Aphid resembles a tuft of cotton, and in great numbers, can leave a plant high and dry.

Updated: 01/02/2022; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
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 hangout. 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.©InsectIdentification.org

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General Characteristics

Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Flying insect icon

Taxonomic Hierarchy

Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Hemiptera
        Family: Aphididae
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          Genus: Grylloprociphilus
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            Species: imbricator

Identifying Information

Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Grylloprociphilus imbricator
Category: Cicada and Similar
Size (Adult; Length): 2mm to 4mm (0.07" to 0.15")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: white; brown
Descriptors: cottony; woolly; flying; clusters; stringy

Relative Size Comparison

Typical Size Between 2mm (0.1in) and 4mm (0.2in)
Lo: 2mm
Md: 3mm
Hi: 4mm

Territorial Map*

U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Beech Blight Aphid may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Beech Blight Aphid. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.
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