“Is that a bug?”

“No, it’s just a tiny piece of blue fuzz caught in the breeze.”

“But it’s changing direction.”

So went the conversation in my backyard the other night. It was way too tiny to get a look at while in flight, so I gently pawed at it to try to get it to land on a nearby bush.

When it did, I almost didn’t believe what I saw. It looked like a microscopic moth with a pale blue version of Doc Brown’s hairdo. I got my camera and zoomed way, way in to get this photo of it:

May 026

I shared the photo with the National Wildlife Federation’s Dave Mizejewski and Doug Inkley, who told me it’s a woolly aphid. It’s a common insect, but one I’d never spotted before, and one that looks like it comes from another planet. Amazing what you can find in your own backyard!

Published: June 15, 2009