Those tiny insects in Tennessee really do suck

  • Bob D’Angelo, Cox Media Group National Content Desk
6:47 a.m. Friday, Sept. 29, 2017 Atlanta News

Those tiny, fuzzy white insect flying all over East Tennessee don’t bite. But many residents hate the sight of them, WBIR reported.

They're called aphids, and they are small sap-sucking insects. They are also known as plant lice. Whatever they are called, they are getting on Brooke McMahan’s nerves.

"They're flying, they're sticking to your clothes they're sticking to your hair,” she told WBIR.

The aphids are very active in the fall.

"This particular aphid is the Asian wooly hackberry aphid,” said David Vandergriff of the University of Tennessee’s Institute of Agriculture..

The insects don't bite or eat plants, but they do suck -- literally.

"They suck the sap out of the leaves and don't digest all of it. So some of that sugary substrate then floats and settles underneath the hackberry tree,” Vandergriff told WBIR.

Vandergriff said the aphids are active now because the temperatures and moisture levels are just right to support a population boom. He said there are two treatment options -- insecticide or tree removal. Both are expensive and removal isn't always an option.

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