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Giant Bark Aphid (Longistigma caryae)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Giant Bark Aphid

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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.

Updated: 01/03/2022; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
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.©InsectIdentification.org

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General Characteristics

Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
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Taxonomic Hierarchy

Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Hemiptera
        Family: Aphididae
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          Genus: Longistigma
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            Species: caryae

Identifying Information

Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Longistigma caryae
Category: True Bug
Size (Adult; Length): 6mm to 8mm (0.23" to 0.31")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: gray; black; white; orange
Descriptors: rows black dots; plant; flying; black wings; mosquito; white; sucking; black powder; ash; long legs

Relative Size Comparison

Typical Size Between 6mm (0.2in) and 8mm (0.3in)
Lo: 6mm
Md: 7mm
Hi: 8mm

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 Giant Bark 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 Giant Bark Aphid. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.
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