Currently viewing the category: "Aphids, Scale Insects, Leafhoppers, and Tree Hoppers"
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More woolly aphids
July 23, 2009
Hello Daniel,
I thought you might be interested in seeing some more pics I have of the woolly aphid.  I LOVE this creature!  In one photo, she looks like a ballerina,

Woolly Aphid
Woolly Aphid

another, she looks like Yodo(sp?) from Star Wars and in the last, she looks like she may be some other stage (larval, pupa?)  You can clearly see what appears to be where the “wool” is coming from.  It looks like 2 jets streams.  I didn’t know they could hop.  These frequently hopped about 6 inches
around the cloth they were on.  And their eyes!  They look and act very similar to leafhoppers.
Thought you’d enjoy seeing them.
Hilma
Detroit, Michigan suburb

Woolly Aphid
Planthopper Nymph

Hi again Hilma,
The life cycles of Aphids can be quite elaborate and complicated with both sexual and asexual reproduction, winged and non-winged generations, and multiple host plants.  The wool is actually a waxy substance that is produced by the aphid.  We are going to contact Eric Eaton and hopefully he can provide some information on your various images.
Here is what BugGuide has to say about one species of Woolly Aphid, the Woolly Apple Aphid:  “Usually overwinter on elms and the first generation is spent on that host. In early summer winged forms appear, they migrate to apple, hawthorn and related trees. Later in the season some migrate to elms, where the bisexual generation is produced and over wintering eggs laid. Other individuals migrate from the branches of the apple trees to the roots, where they produce gall-like growths. The root-inhabiting forms may remain there for a year or more, passing through several generations.”  Your photos are really stunning.  You should also post them to BugGuide.

Woolly Aphid
Planthopper Nymph

Daniel:
Sorry to be so late getting back to you….
Ok, the woolly aphid pictures.  Actually, only the first image of the winged insect is a woolly aphid.  The second picture is of a nymph of a planthopper in the family Acanaloniidae.  The third (bottom) image depicts a nymph of a flatid planthopper, family Flatidae.  That’s right, three different families of insects!  Very nice photos, by the way.  Most planthoppers in the Fulgoroidea sprout the waxy filaments and coatings seen in the images here.  Obviously, woolly aphids secrete the same kind of waxy substance.  It helps to keep the insects from drying out (dessicating), and makes them at least a little more unpalatable to predators.
Eric

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Black Bee or Fly nesting in multiple tree branches
July 22, 2009
I have about 50 to 100 what I believe to be bees that have taken over a Magnolia tree 2 years running in Maryland. The appear to have shown up in the last few weeks. They do not care that I am observing them and do not approach me. They also have a these pod like nest all over the tree limbs that appear to be killing the leaves on the tree (black mold like takes over and then kills the leaf). If they behave like last year they will multiple quickly and will make it really difficult to eat on our patio. The last picture is a fly swatter but the insect was only stunned and few away after the picture.
Scott
Frederick, Maryland

Bald Faced Hornet and Magnolia Scale

Bald Faced Hornet and Magnolia Scale

Dear Scott,
You have two different insects and only one is a real problem.  The Bald Faced Hornets, Dolichovespula maculata
, are paper wasps and they build a nest of chewed wood pulp.  They are social wasps with a queen and they will defend their nest, potentially stinging the threat multiple times.  They are visiting your magnolia tree to feed on the sticky honeydew excreted by the Magnolia Scale, Neolecanium cornuparvum, that is infesting your tree.  the bumps on the branches are the mature female Scale insects and the sooty black mold is growing on the sticky honeydew that is secreted by the Magnolia Scale insects.  Here is how the Ohio State University Factsheet on Magnolia Scale reads:  “The magnolia scale, Neolecanium cornuparvum (Thro), is one of the largest and most conspicuous scale insects known to occur in Ohio. Adult females may reach nearly 1/2-inch in diameter when fully grown. The scale is shiny tan-brown and smooth. As the scales grow, they are often covered with a white mealy wax. This wax is lost at the time that the crawlers emerge.”  Here is how the Penn State Entomology Page describes damage due to Magnolia Scale:  “Magnolia scale prefers attacking star magnolia, Magnolia stellata , cucumbertree magnolia, M. acuminata , lily magnolia, M. liliiflora and saucer magnolia, M. soulangeana . They also attack other cultivars but usually with less frequency. Scale insects damage plants by removing plant fluids. Heavily infested trees can be seriously injured or killed by this species. A reduction in foliage and flower production may result from an infestation. Twig and branch dieback may also occur. Twigs of the host plant that are normally light green appear enlarged and purple from a massive magnolia scale infestation. This soft scale also secretes large amounts of honeydew which gives the plant an unsightly appearance; black sooty mold develops on the sticky honeydew. The honeydew attracts large numbers of ants, wasps, yellowjackets, and other noxious insects.”  If you rid your tree of Magnolia Scale (see the sources we have linked to) you will also be rid of the Bald Faced Hornets.  See BugGuide for more information on the Bald Faced Hornets.

Bald Faced Hornet feeding on black sooty mold on honeydew

Bald Faced Hornet feeding on black sooty mold on honeydew

A Comment about Bald Faced Hornets
docile bald faced hornets?
July 23, 2009
I have to say that i am quite shocked about the recent post about bald faced hornets and magnolia scale. I work in a cemetery on Long Island NY and about three years ago we had a big problem with bald faced hornets, they were everywhere, and very nasty….without provocation….they would attack if you got ANYWHERE close, i alomst got hit in the face from a nest 25ft up in a tree….and they would always attack your face/head. Unfortunately they all had to be irradicated due to visitor safety. Curios why they would be so aggressive? Maybe the proxcimity to NYC! hahaha

As we stated in our original response, the Bald Faced Hornets get very protective of their nest and are most likely to attack and sting if the nest is threatened, or if they perceive the nest to be threatened.  In Scott’s case, there was no nest in the magnolia tree, so the Bald Faced Hornets were docile.

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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?
Hilma Anderson
Detroit, Michigan suburb

Woolly Aphid

Woolly Aphid

Dear Hilma,
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.”

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I’m looking to identify what type of spider lives in this foamy mess.
July 16, 2009
I went on a hike the other day and along the trail, I saw this white foamy substance under most of the plant leaves. Parts of the trail looked like it was just covered with it. My father said that he had seen the same spit-like goo on deer grass in another part of the county. We asked a ranger what it was, and she told us that there are spiders lying in each glob. Content with that answer we drove home. When I got home, I suddenly realized that I didn’t ask the type of spider and it drove me crazy! It’s too far to drive back there! Yesterday, I went on a run on the trail near our house which goes along the beach, and the same stuff was there, this time I caught a picture! Is there any chance you know what’s going on with this all? I’m dying of curiosity!
Emily W.
Northern California, Humboldt County, McKinleyville

Spittle from a Spittlebug
Spittle from a Spittlebug

Dear Emily,
The ranger spoke in error.  There is no spider in the center of the spittle.  There is an immature Spittlebug in the center of the spittle.  Spittlebugs are leafhopper-like insects in the family Cercopidae, and according to BugGuide, there are 67 North American species in 9 genera.  BugGuide also indicates:  “After the nymph molts for the final time, the resulting adult insect leaves the mass of “spittle” and moves about actively.  The “spittle” is derived from a fluid voided from the anus and from a mucilaginous substance excreted by epidermal glands.  Spittlebug nymphs wander away from their spittle masses, and either start new ones, or enter those of other nymphs. Aphrophora nymphs hold the record, of one spittle mass over a foot long containing about 100 individuals! (Comment by Andy Hamilton).

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Red Bug with White Spots
June 11, 2009
My son describes these bugs that are outside his apartment building (second to last entry in the website noted below). I usually don’t like bugs but these are very beautiful. They jump on his head and shoulders! You can read more and perhaps see clearer images at the website below.
http://grahamwoodring.com/
Christine
Xi’an China

Unknown Hemipteran from China

Lycorma delictula from China

Hi Christine,
We were out of town when your email arrived, and we never answered hundreds of emails in that time.  We are absolutely fascinated by these unknown Hemipterans, the insect order that includes True Bugs and various Hoppers.  We hope one of our readers will be able to assist in this unusual identification.  We agree that they are quite beautiful.

Unknown Hemipteran from China

Lycorma delictula from China

Update from Eric Eaton
Daniel:
The Chinese leafhopper is likely something in the Fulguroidea, and Lois O’Brien could probably tell you which one.  I think you have gone to her before, right?  Let me know if not and I’ll introduce you via e-mail.
Eric

Update from Karl
July 28, 2009
Daniel:
It looks like Eric Eaton is right again. I haven’t been able to identify the fulgoromorph nymph, but I did come across a photo that looks pretty much identical. The image is from a collection posted by the California Academy of Sciences, taken on a field trip to Yunnan Province. Regards.
Karl

Another Update from Karl
Unknown Chinese Hemipteran
July 31, 2009
Daniel:
I dug a little deeper and found an interesting story behind this handsome creature.  The species is Lycorma delictula (Family Fulgoridae : Subfamily Aphaeninae) and it has the erroneous common name White Cicada. Originally from southern China, it has been on the move recently and appears to have made quite a nuisance of itself outside of its natural range, particularly on the Korean Peninsula. I even found one reference in a report on China-Korea trade relations where it was referred to as “adding insult to injury”. It makes a living by sucking tree sap. Regards.
Karl

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Leafhopper ID
July 13, 2009
Lots of these on our Red Bud tree recently (July). Black body with red underside, red line and one yellow line across thorax; wings black with 2 yellow-orange stripes across them. Approx. 1 cm. length. Antennae inconspicuous.
Mary
Central IL

Two Lined Spittlebug

Two Lined Spittlebug

Dear Mary,
This is a Two Lined Spittlebug, Prosapia bicincta.  Spittlebugs are related to Leafhoppers and share many similarities since they are in the same suborder of Free Living Hemipterans, but they have their own family Cercopidae.  The immature Spittlebugs live in a mass of foam that resembles spittle.  BugGuide indicates that the damage done to plants is mild and states:  “In the immature (nymph) stage (surrounded by the ‘spittle’ foam which protects them, and which they produce from juices they suck from the plant) they feed on centipedegrass, bermudagrass and other grasses, including occasionally corn. Adults feed on hollies – they feed on the underside of leaves, and damage shows up as pale mottling not usually visible from above.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination