Besieged by bugs: Sudden surge of … flies?

October 28, 2008 at 6:26 pm | In Seen around town, WS miscellaneous | 26 Comments

So we just returned from a post-sunset neighborhood walk (hillside east of Lincoln Park), during which, clouds of tiny flies seemed to follow us every step of the way. Thought maybe it was just us. Then, as soon as we walked into the house and checked e-mail, the WSB inbox yielded this note from “DC”:

I live right near Ercolini Park and there have been a TON of nasty little flies all over the place this evening. Anybody know what causes that phenomena, and why this time of year? Seems weird.

We’ll fly into research mode – but in the meantime, maybe you’ve already got the answer? ADDED 6:55 PM: WSB contributing photojournalist Christopher Boffoli wonders if these might be the culprits – he says there were “millions” in his garden this afternoon:



  1. There is a cloud of them in my backyard too. Admiral (51st’ish). Weird!

    Comment by heb — 6:37 pm October 28, 2008 #

  2. Sometimes we get those insects that prefer the lee side of objects, even walkers (they love the NW corner of my house near the gutter and swarm in a gyre on the lee or downwind side) and fruit flies are a possibility though they prefer fruit or ethanol. Flying ants are a bit late and tend to be loners and they are not technically flies. Good luck.

    Comment by JayDee — 6:41 pm October 28, 2008 #

  3. there were a ton of them at California and Findlay today. I thought it was raining at first. During the walk to my car I am sure I inhaled a few. :(

    Comment by JenV — 6:43 pm October 28, 2008 #

  4. My guess is flying wooly aphids.

    Comment by cjboffoli — 6:59 pm October 28, 2008 #

  5. A type of gnat, I’m guessing, but that is a pretty generic description, like “midge”. What species they would be, I’ve no idea. When they swarm they are called “ghosts”.

    I’m not an entomologist, but I’ve seen these swarms around here in the past couple of years. I just recall someone telling me this. Not a bug person, much.

    Comment by d — 7:09 pm October 28, 2008 #

  6. On another blog it was suggested they might be Whiteflys. There were reports from across the city of clouds of these things.

    Comment by Mac — 7:23 pm October 28, 2008 #

  7. I think the black helicopters were spraying them out.

    Comment by WesCAddle — 7:31 pm October 28, 2008 #

  8. My car is covered with dead ones. They love bright yellow, evidently.

    Comment by Joe — 7:34 pm October 28, 2008 #

  9. Looking at the Wiki picture it definitely wasn’t whiteflies that were hatching in my garden near the Junction.

    Comment by cjboffoli — 7:42 pm October 28, 2008 #

  10. they were also outside my window (we live near 35th and roxbury) last night and i wondered what they were. The spider webs in our yard are loaded with them. seems funny timing?

    Comment by lina — 7:47 pm October 28, 2008 #

  11. The timing is the totally strange thing. It seems so late in the year for a hatch.

    Comment by DC — 7:57 pm October 28, 2008 #

  12. Saw a ton of them on my walk this evening. I felt like they were more blue than anything.

    Comment by Jeffro — 8:09 pm October 28, 2008 #

  13. We had a ton of little white things flying around our backyard this evening too! I had to keep my mouth closed (and covered it when I spoke to my 2yo) bc I didn’t want to swallow any! Yuck! Btw, 44th & Juneau.

    Comment by A — 8:30 pm October 28, 2008 #

  14. I was walking home on 42nd and Oregon today talking on my phone (via headphones) and practically trying to swim through these things – then I suddenly realized that I must have looked like I was talking to myself and randomly swatting at the air.

    Comment by Glenda — 8:31 pm October 28, 2008 #

  15. did anyone else besides me think about Peanuts and Pig Pen? lol…I didn’t mean that as an insult to anyone or to West Seattle. We’ve had some warmer, sunny weather the last few days…wonder if that had anything to do with the late season hatch. Supposed to be wet and much cooler starting later this week..this might be a last gasp…

    Comment by JanS — 8:32 pm October 28, 2008 #

  16. Noticed a cloud of little white flying things as soon as I stepped out of my car this evening, in the Pigeon Point area. Maybe they hatched late like everything else in my garden did this year. Eghh!

    Comment by La — 8:37 pm October 28, 2008 #

  17. Jan, that’s what Torin and I felt like while batting our way through the last cloud of them while turning back up the hill after our walk! That’s why it was such a relief to come home, hit the inbox, and see DC’s note – TR

    Comment by WSB — 9:08 pm October 28, 2008 #

  18. When I was in college in Walla Walla we’d get these around late October every year. Little furry blue gnats everywhere. In your hair, on your clothes…and in your mouth if you weren’t careful. I can’t remember what exactly they are, though.

    Comment by DG — 7:08 am October 29, 2008 #

  19. This happens every year about this time…they kind of glow blue in the dark…kinda cool! My spiders in the garden are having a feast!

    Comment by Koni — 7:16 am October 29, 2008 #

  20. About once every year, I see these little blue bugs the size of aphids floating around in groups. I enjoy them very much.

    Comment by Anna — 8:30 am October 29, 2008 #

  21. I hope they have some nutritional value – I inhaled several dozen while jogging over the last couple of days.

    Comment by wundrgrrrl — 8:43 am October 29, 2008 #

  22. There were swarms of these in the Belvidere area. Also inhaled several. Funny phenom.

    Comment by Belvidere — 1:31 pm October 29, 2008 #

  23. They’re on the eastside, too. I live in Crossroads and work at Microsoft (main campus), and I was just tweeting yesterday about how it was like swimming through them just to cross the street. And they REALLY stick to you!

    Comment by Ian Adams — 1:56 pm October 29, 2008 #

  24. My daughter Zoe and myself caught a few of them. They have a bright blue markings with some furry parts on them too. We have seen them hatch out before, but I never remember it being this late in the season or seeing so many at once. It seems that warm fall evenings bring them out. I’d really like to know precisely what they are called so we don’t continue to call them “blue butt” flies.

    Comment by Andrew McCarty — 5:10 pm October 29, 2008 #

  25. I’m so glad this topic popped up. I spent over an hour yesterday googling around the internet, etc trying to figure out what these things are. Still haven’t figured it out. I walk my dog on 36th Ave SW, south of St. Vincents, and at times it was like walking in a snow flurry…

    Comment by smikes — 12:40 pm October 30, 2008 #

  26. Tons of these are flying around my backyard…today, Nov 16, 2 weeks after that last post! Blech.

    Comment by Stuart — 4:12 pm November 16, 2008 #

Sorry, comment time is over.

All contents copyright 2005-2015, A Drink of Water and a Story Interactive. Here's how to contact us.
Entries and comments feeds. ^Top^