The floating “snowflakes” of dispersing woolly aphids continue to drift across the sky. All reports of their appearance have been from west of I-65. The Asian woolly hackberry aphid was identified from a Todd county sample, but there are several other species of wooly aphids in Kentucky that also could be making sky treks at this time of year.
Woolly aphids (Figure 1) usually have two host trees; they stay on one host from fall to spring and the other for the summer. Their flight can grab your attention, especially in the fall when these insects are most abundant. This movement occurs every year, but usually aphid numbers are low and go unnoticed. The host transfer can occur over several weeks and is ended by cold weather.
Why so many this year? Every so often, factors are just right and trees produce a bumper crop. Major regulators of insect populations include weather and natural enemies.
Will this happen next year? A large overwintering population sets the stage for a repeat, but lots will happen between now and then. The aphids will let us know how things worked out for them.
By Lee Townsend, Extension Entomologist