Love is in the air for woolly adelgids

I've noticed quite a number of tiny, white insects in the air lately. They have only appeared since the weather began to cool off and we've gotten some more moisture.

We live near Hillcrest Orchards and Roxy Ann Vineyards. Does our proximity to agricultural areas have anything to do with the appearance of these insects, or are they all around the city?

— Oscar Z., email

If it had snowed recently, Oscar, we might have tried to pull the wool over your eyes with an answer about reanimated, crystallized water vapor.

However, we are constrained by the laws of journalistic integrity, which means we have to stick with facts even when fiction would be more fun.

The fact is, those bugs you're referring to are called woolly adelgids, according to Peter Schroeder, Southern Oregon University associate professor of entomology. Woolly because they're clad in a fluffy covering.

"Aphids belong to a different family, but they're very similar," Schroeder said.

You happened to catch them during mating season, Oscar.

They'll lay eggs on trees, and the eggs will hatch wingless and green in the spring.

The reason you see them everywhere is because of the number of cottonwoods and poplars in the area.

"They're really harmless, even to trees," Schroeder added. "They're more a nuisance, I guess, in the sense that they're flying around in the air."

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering them all.

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