**New York City Dealing with Unusual Invasion of Flying Insects**
By the time Martin DuPain got back home from a short walk Thursday afternoon, he was covered with a smattering of tiny flying critters. They were in his hair, on his shirt, and in his nose. When he sneezed, the bugs came flying out.
Invasion of Unknown Bugs — An Unwanted Canadian Export?
As if the smoke and haze sweeping in from wildfires in Canada weren’t enough, New York City has been invaded in recent days with plumes of flying insects that have become both a nuisance and a source of fascination. The question on everyone’s minds: What were they, where did they come from, and will they ever go away? Another unwanted Canadian export?
The Startling Discovery of Winged Aphids
At first, DuPain, who lives in Queens, thought it might have been wind-driven ash, but he soon found out otherwise. Some were alive and flying. He quickly jumped in the shower. The scene was nothing short of a “gnatural disaster,” as described in a Twitter post. Reports of swarms in some neighborhoods have surfaced on social media, sparking discussions about these insects.
Experts Identify the Insects as Winged Aphids
Professor David Lohman, an entomologist at the City University of New York, analyzed photos and videos circulating on social media to identify the flying insects. Contrary to amateur beliefs that they were gnats, Lohman concluded that they were winged aphids. Aphids are small, pear-shaped insects found throughout the United States, including New York City, in various colors.
Unusual Aphid Swarms and Their Possible Causes
Although Lohman is not an aphid expert, he noted that the swarms are uncommon, as aphids typically appear in New York City after summer. He hypothesized that warm winter temperatures might have disrupted the biological clock of these bugs. To gain more insights, Lohman sought input from other aphid experts.
Aphid Experts Offer Their Opinions
According to Natalie Hernandez, a specialist in aphids, winged morphs of aphids disperse when colonies become too large or too dense. She reasoned that the wildfires in Canada and extreme temperatures might have contributed to the unusual swarms. Andy Jensen, another aphid researcher, supported this theory by suggesting that the smoke might be allowing aphids to remain abundant longer into summer than normal.
No Cause for Alarm, Say Health Officials
The New York City Public Health Department assured residents that there was no need for alarm, stating that the insects pose no known public health risk. The department is continuing to monitor the situation and will provide any relevant health information if necessary.
The End of the Swarms in Sight
The bug experts predict that the swarms shouldn’t last much longer, which is a relief to Jeremy Cohen, who experienced being pelted by the insects while riding his bike in Brooklyn. At times, Cohen had to steer his bicycle with one hand while cupping his mouth and nose with the other. He initially thought it was debris from the wildfires until he realized it was a swarm of bugs.
The Marvel of Nature’s Balance
While some find the insects annoying, the presence of such a large number of bugs has delighted Professor Lohman. He sees it as a sign that New York City is organic and pesticide use is limited. If pesticide use were widespread, there wouldn’t be such an abundance of aphids.
The Unforgettable Invasion
New York City’s unexpected invasion of flying insects has become a topic of discussion, both for the annoyance they cause and the curiosity they elicit. As experts continue to investigate the unusual swarms of winged aphids, residents eagerly await their departure, hoping to return to bug-free days and clear skies.