Can you please tell me what this is?
July 17, 2009
What a wonderful site you have!! I have sent you another donation to support all your efforts. I love insects and am trying to put a personal book together of all the photos I’ve taken of them. This beautiful little creature flew past me and landed on a leaf. At first I thought it was a piece of lint until I caught a gleam from its wings. It allowed me to pick it up on a piece of paper and I then put it on a black background for a photo. I think it’s adorable and looks like a tiny white mouse. I’ve looked through all my books and can’t identify it. Can you tell me what it might be?
Detroit, Michigan suburb
Thanks for your donation in support of our site. For the record, we have no way of knowing when we open our mail if a querant has donated to our site. We post letters and photos for various reasons. In the case of your letter, it is the gorgeous quality of your stunning photograph of a Woolly Aphid. BugGuide has a photo of a winged individual, but there is not much information on the genus Eriosoma. The life cycle of the Woolly Aphid is fascinating, because like other aphids, females can give birth to young without mating. Here is what the University of Minnesota website says about the life cycle of the Woolly Aphid: “Woolly aphids generally have two hosts: a primary host on which they overwinter, and a secondary host on which they spend much of the summer. Most woolly aphids share a similar life cycle, although some details of the life cycle may vary among species. They usually overwinter as eggs laid in bark of their primary host. In spring, the eggs hatch into females which give birth without mating. Each female can produce hundreds of offspring, so populations can grow rapidly. After one or two generations on the primary host, winged females are produced, and they fly to secondary hosts. They remain on secondary hosts for the remainder of the summer, producing several generations of young aphids. In late summer or early fall, a different group of winged females flies back to a primary host where they give birth to tiny male and female aphids that mate. Gravid females deposit a single large egg (or eggs) into protected locations in the bark and then die. While woolly aphids generally have two hosts, many species can sustain themselves on their secondary host alone.”