Look at those little balls of fuzz go!
Life Imitates Art
Don't we all wish sometimes that real life could be as fantastical as the films of Hayao Miyazaki — or at least have food that looks just as delicious?
Well, one Redditor stumbled on some downright strange bugs that look like those cute little soot sprites in "Spirited Away" and "My Neighbor Totoro," and we absolutely adore them.
Just look at the little guys swaying back and forth like they're having the time of their life in an insect dance-off.
"Someone please tell me what the heck they are?" the Redditor implored in a thread. "They were on a walking path only around one single leaf."
boogie woogie aphids shake their furry booties in unison to ward off predators. Spot them at a disco in the woods near you pic.twitter.com/puI7P0ihdC
— Patrick Ryan (@ry_paddy) October 27, 2022
Internet sleuths were quickly on the case and determined that the bugs are what's known as — and we're not making this up — "boogie woogie aphids," or beech blight aphids.
The partying fluffballs are indeed a species of woolly aphid that feed off the sap of beech trees and typically form colonies on a tree's branches or under its leaves. They're not believed to be harmful to their hosts, but they do leave behind a black, soot-like fungi on a tree's branches, and also excrete honeydew.
"So these are basically the white little spirits in 'Princess Mononoke,'" replied one astute commenter on the Reddit video, referring to another Miyazaki masterpiece.
When disturbed by potential predators, the aphids raise their fluffy derrieres to the air and shake them in unison, which is the amusing behavior captured in the Redditor's video.
However, according to a decade-old Scientific American piece, the boogie woogie aphid's rear-end raving is actually only performed by its nymphs, not adults. And the nymphs are really aggressive, ruthlessly dispatching several moth larvae in one 2001 study that SciAm cited.
That makes the funny, fuzzy dancing "less sweet fairy jig and more menacing war-dance performed by children," in SciAm's analysis.
But, uh, don't let that ruin the endearment.
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