Tiny insects wearing woolen coats seen in large numbers around Kamloops, Okanagan | iINFOnews
September 18, 2021 – 8:30 AM
If you’re removing tiny furry bugs from your hair and teeth this week, you’re not alone.
Some Kamloops residents have reported huge amounts of pesky insects flying around what appear to be little woolen coats.
Gardening enthusiast in Kamloops, Floriane Fleming, said they were called woolly aphids and confirmed that she had seen more than usual this year.
âI’ve never seen them like this before,â she said. “They love Virginia Creeper and some flowers like hydrangeas and holly shanks, but they don’t seem to harm the vegetables in my garden.”
Murray B. Isman is Dean Emeritus of Applied Biology at the University of British Columbia.
He confirmed that the creatures are woolly aphids, more scientifically, balsam woolly aphids, not true aphids, but aphid-like insects in a separate family.
“In the fall, in response to the decrease in day length, the winged females disperse en masse to find sites on which to lay their eggs,” Isman said. “The nymphs that hatch from these eggs will spend the winter in sheltered sites and be the founders of generations from next spring.”
Isman said woolly aphids do this every fall, but he suspects populations of the insect have reached very high levels this summer due to the unusually hot and dry conditions, which would explain their huge presence at the moment.
âThey can be very damaging to real fir trees, but luckily they are completely harmless to humans,â he said. “With the heavy rains forecast for the next few days and the cooler temperatures, I think they will largely disappear over the next two weeks.”
All woolly aphids are female and reproduce asexually. As they feed, they secrete waxy filaments that eventually cover their body. These filaments give them their “woolly” appearance. The woolly coat protects insects and their eggs from predators.
Woolly aphids sleep all summer and are active when temperatures cool.
READ MORE: Gardeners can take action to help bee populations
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