New York City’s Recent Pests: Smoke From Fires, Now Aphid Swarms

by Sophia Chen
Aphid Invasion in NYC

Martin DuPain returned home from a brief stroll on Thursday afternoon coated in a multitude of tiny airborne creatures. These critters had invaded his hair, clothing, and even his nasal passages, expelling with a sneeze.

In addition to the smoke and fog originating from Canadian wildfires, New York City has recently been infested by swarms of flying insects. These pests have become an irritant and also a subject of intrigue – their origin, species, and the possibility of their departure is being questioned. Are these another uninvited gift from Canada?

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Initially, DuPain, a Queens resident, assumed it was ash propelled by the wind. However, he soon discovered some of the particles were alive and mobile, prompting him to shower immediately.

These peculiar circumstances led to one Twitter user humorously labeling the situation a “gnatural disaster.” The platform has been alive with accounts of bug swarms in certain areas, while others remain uninfested.

People caught in these insect clouds attempted to swat them away. Some shielded their mouths and noses while others donned surgical masks before stepping outside.

Professor David Lohman, an entomologist at the City University of New York, identified the insects as winged aphids from the photos and videos on social media, dispelling assumptions they were gnats.

Aphids, which are tiny, pear-shaped insects that appear in various colors, are prevalent across the United States, including New York City. However, the swarming is peculiar as these bugs usually don’t emerge in New York City until post-summer. Lohman suggests that warm winter temperatures may have disrupted the aphid’s biological clock.

On Friday, Lohman sought aphid experts’ opinions. According to aphid specialist Natalie Hernandez, aphids fly throughout the growing season and disperse when the colony becomes overly crowded. The Canadian wildfires and extreme temperatures might also be influencing their behavior, she proposed.

Andy Jensen, another aphid researcher, concurred with the plausible theory, suggesting that the smoke could allow aphids to remain abundant longer into the summer.

Despite the infestation, the city’s Public Health Department assured there was no cause for alarm, stating, “While this may be annoying, these insects do not present a known public health risk.”

Bug experts predict the swarms will soon disperse, much to the relief of individuals like Jeremy Cohen, who felt bombarded by what he initially assumed was wildfire debris while cycling in Brooklyn. He later realized he was in the midst of an aphid swarm.

Despite the annoyance, Lohman found delight in the abundance of insects, interpreting it as an indication of an organic New York. He remarked, “If pesticide use was widespread, there wouldn’t be this many aphids.”

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Aphid Invasion in NYC

What type of insect has invaded New York City recently?

The insect that has invaded New York City recently is a type of flying bug known as the winged aphid.

Why are there swarms of aphids in New York City now?

While unusual, the swarms of aphids in New York City are potentially due to the warm winter temperatures which may have disrupted the insects’ biological clocks.

Are the aphids in New York City a threat to public health?

No, according to the city’s Public Health Department, while these insects may be annoying, they do not present a known public health risk.

How long are the aphid swarms expected to last in New York City?

Experts believe the aphid swarms in New York City shouldn’t last much longer, although a specific timeline is not provided.

What might be the impact of the Canadian wildfires on the aphid swarms?

The smoke from the Canadian wildfires and extreme temperatures could be influencing the behavior of aphids, allowing them to remain abundant longer into the summer.

How have New Yorkers reacted to the aphid invasion?

New Yorkers have reacted with a mixture of annoyance and intrigue to the aphid invasion. Some residents, like entomologist Professor David Lohman, see it as a sign of an organic city.

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CityDweller July 1, 2023 - 7:54 am

I live in Manhattan and haven’t seen any of these bugs. Are they only in certain areas?

NatureLover211 July 1, 2023 - 8:08 am

While it’s annoying, it’s also pretty fascinating. Shows that our cities are alive with nature – even when it’s tiny bugs. 🙂

SophieTrends July 1, 2023 - 11:55 am

okay this is creepy… don’t want to step outside now lol!

AphidAmateur July 1, 2023 - 12:02 pm

so interesting to learn about aphids, didn’t know they could fly. thanks for the article!

TravelBug82 July 1, 2023 - 2:13 pm

had plans to visit NYC this month, guess i’ll wait till these critters are gone… :/

MikeJ74 July 1, 2023 - 6:40 pm

Wow!! I’m from NYC and I swear these bugs are everywhere, it’s nuts!! never seen anything like it before…

HealthNut July 1, 2023 - 10:15 pm

glad to hear they’re not harmful but they sure are annoying! hope they clear up soon.


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