Entomology (Study of Bugs)/insect identification


ghost-like tiny insect
ghost-like tiny insect  
Wisconsin resident, saw clouds of these insects. It looked like cottonwood boom. Closer look revealed they were flying. Look like tiny ghosts in flight.

Dear Steve - This is an adult woolly aphid (family Eriosomatidae); they feed on plant sap and produce a filamentous waxy white covering on their body which resembles cotton or wool. See http://tinyurl.com/pavgmur for details on their life cycle. I have seen them on numerous occasions, but never in a mass flight such as you witnessed.
Hope this helps,

Entomology (Study of Bugs)

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Ed Saugstad


Will accept most questions in general entomology, including those related to medical entomology, taxonomy, ecology, arthropod surveillance, and pest management. If you are requesting a 'mystery bug' identification, PLEASE either attach an image to your question, or post an image on a web page (such as Flickr) so that I can look at it, as verbal descriptions frequently are insufficient for a definitive identification.


21 years in the U.S. Army as a medical entomologist; duties varied from surveillance of pest populations (including mosquitoes, cockroaches, ticks, and stored products pests) to conducting research on mosquito-virus ecological relationships and mosquito faunal studies. Ten years as a civilian analyst for the Department of Defense, primarily on distribution of vector-borne diseases worldwide. Limited experience on surveillance of agricultural insects in North Dakota and Indiana.

Entomological Society of America, West Virginia Entomological Society, Society for Vector Ecology, National Speleological Society, West Virginia Association for Cave Studies.

American Journal of Public Health, Contributions of the American Entomological Institute, Japanese Journal of Sanitary Zoology, Journal of Economic Entomology, Mosquito News, and Mosquito Systematics.

B.S. in entomology from North Dakota State University in 1963, M.S. in entomology from Purdue University in 1967.

©2016 About.com. All rights reserved.