Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Tiny White Fluffy...

What is this white fluffy flying thing?
A flying fairy?   An eeny-weeny beeny ghost?   A drifting angel?
   No, it's definitely not an angel; it's an aphid. A woolly aphid.
   I saw this tiny white fuzzy bug flying along the edge of a fence row. Even though it looked like a piece of fuzz or lint drifting past, I gave chase because I've seen these white fuzzy insects flying before, and knew how cool they were.  Also, I happened to have my Nikon and zoom lens with me this time, and the thought struck me, " Could I get a picture of an aphid as it was flying?"  Well, yes, but I was always chasing it and didn't get a side shot to show some motion.
   Anyway, then I caught the woolly aphid and let it climb up my finger where I could hold it in the sun for a photo.  Incidentally, I took the close-up picture of the aphid (below) with a Pentax Optio that I had in my pocket for just such an occasion.
This white fuzzy insect is an adult woolly aphid
   Woolly aphids secrete waxy filaments that give them the fluffy look.  The fluff may afford them some protection from predators that would rather avoid mouthfuls of wax.  Woolly aphids suck plant juices.  They can be found on various host plants depending on the species of aphid.
Here is a link for some more information on woolly aphids.
So, if you see a fluffy flying fuzz-ball, perhaps you could chase it down for a close look at its white wispy wax wig.
Here is a link to another Nature Post with pictures of these fluffy flying white bugs.
By the way, an aphid enemy also does the white wax filament thing.  See my post on the
 Ladybird Beetle larvae and its bizarre wax wig.
Oh, and the line,
 "eeny weeny beeny ghost... that rose up in the air" is from a cd of a great storyteller, Bill Harley.


  1. Great shot of him on your finger 1 Oh the things I learn from your blog !

  2. Anonymous6/24/2012

    Thanks so much. This was the best answer I could find on those very interesting "drifting angels"! God bless your good work! Sister Teresa

  3. Anonymous7/02/2012

    Just saw one today. Its true I thought it was a little ghost on the 2nd of July. Glad I know what it is now. A neat little creature to find!

  4. Jan Dempsey7/04/2012

    I live in the middle of Minnesota, just started seeing these little guys today. Aphids..hmm, just what I needed. Will wash all of my plants with natural garlic spray.Thanks for the info. NorthStar48

  5. Anonymous7/06/2012

    Judy K July 6 2012. I've noticed these interesting little creatures for many years. Sorry to hear that they are aphids. I've always called them Fairy flies as they are so graceful.

    1. Judy,
      That seems like a fitting name. Interestingly, there are also tiny wasps called fairy flies (family Mymaridae).

  6. I caught one of these a couple of days ago. I thought it was a piece of lint flying through the air. I'd been seeing them all over the backyard and resolved to get to the bottom of it. My daughter and I used a magnifying glass to inspect the little bugger as he sat on my finger. What a cutie! I can't wait to tell her what they are.

  7. Anonymous6/15/2015

    Thanks for the great pictures and information. Since I was young, I always just called them tiny fairies. Glad I came to your page.

  8. I have seen a couple in our yard in Richmond, Va. this spring, although I had never seen them before. They are magical looking, even if they are aphids!

  9. Kristen7/03/2015

    I just found your post. All of a sudden I was seeing these white fluffy flying critters as if they just hatched. I had no idea what they were but right now they are all over southwestern PA. Thanks for the answer!!!

  10. Anonymous7/24/2015

    I found this site trying to identify something I saw, it was blue and very small, but it was in NZ?

    Any ideas, as I pointed at it, it landed on my the amazement of my two lads.

  11. I saw one today in Houston, TX. So fascinating! I didn't see it fly though :-(