UPDATE: Insect invasion in West Seattle

8:31 PM: We’re hearing from multiple readers about an insect invasion in the Alki area. Stephanie said she went out for a walk and “was covered in” small blue aphid-type bugs. An earlier texter said they believe the bugs are smoky-winged ash aphids. So far we haven’t found history of them swarming in Seattle, but they seem to be a periodic problem in Eastern Washington – a recent report there points to this WSU website report from 2017, describing them as “hovering masses of puffy gnat-like bugs.” This time of year, the females lay eggs, and that’s the reason for the swarming.

9:47 PM: Commenters from all around the peninsula are reporting sightings, so we’ve updated the headline. We’ll be trying to track down an expert tomorrow to see if we can find out more.

35 Replies to "UPDATE: Insect invasion in West Seattle"

  • Azimuth October 19, 2021 (8:41 pm)

    I was noticing these bugs today too…

  • J October 19, 2021 (8:42 pm)

    I was wondering what those are in Arbor Heights today 

  • Laura October 19, 2021 (8:47 pm)

    We had the same phenomenon here in Arbor Heights this afternoon. 

  • WSB October 19, 2021 (8:56 pm)

    Co-publisher saw a short-lived swarm in our Upper Fauntleroy yard so since you all mention AH, maybe it was part of this phenomenon.

    • Adam October 19, 2021 (9:17 pm)

      Yep, we noticed them in our yard and on our walk in and around Upper Fauntleroy too.  Don’t think I’ve ever seen them before, very distinct color. 

  • M October 19, 2021 (9:17 pm)

    Yes those bugs are in the Admiral Belvedere area. I have a number of them stuck in spider webs on my fence and they were flying around when walking the dogs. 

  • Tracey October 19, 2021 (9:24 pm)

    Same in North Admiral.

  • JJA October 19, 2021 (9:25 pm)

    Yes!!! All along Beach Drive this evening – I kept inhaling them on my run. Ick. 

  • Leshawn October 19, 2021 (9:32 pm)

    North Delridge as well.

  • 1994 October 19, 2021 (9:37 pm)

    Arbor Heights area – out doing yard work from 5 to 6:30 and I thought I disturbed a nest of some little gnats. There were so many that must have been landing on me that I kept thinking I had spider webs on my face or neck – icky sensation to have.

  • Yep October 19, 2021 (9:38 pm)

    Saw them all over between Junction and Admiral this evening on my walk

  • Aaron B October 19, 2021 (9:44 pm)

    Saw them in gatewood today. Was wondering what those were…

  • Herongrrrl October 19, 2021 (10:03 pm)

    What, you’ve never noticed them before? They are an annual occurrence. Sounds like there are more than usual this year, but I didn’t notice an abnormally high number of them in my garden this afternoon.

  • Vee October 19, 2021 (10:15 pm)

    Yes happened  when walking in gatewood early  evening

  • Bugbop October 19, 2021 (10:19 pm)

    Yes, growing up in Eastern Washington these are common site in the fall, the kids call them ‘blue fuzzy butt bugs’. Fun to say and initiates a fun attitude towards these benign little critters. (Photo taken Oct. 2018.)

  • WSCurmudgeon October 19, 2021 (10:36 pm)

    In the 60s to the early 00s when I ran outside at dusk I’d occasionally encounter a cloud of them,  usually in an opening in a wooded area, often near a pond.  Green Lake, and the paths around the reservoirs were common places.  At my house S of the Junction they used to swarm for several nights this time of year, but haven’t noticed them for at least a decade.

  • jissy October 19, 2021 (10:53 pm)

    Interesting, my kids were at a playdate in Burien and came home mentioning how many insects were out!

  • M October 19, 2021 (11:16 pm)

    Also spotted today in Laurelhurst. 

    • Patience October 20, 2021 (6:53 am)

      We also had masses of them north of South Seattle College.

  • Jennifer Carrasco October 20, 2021 (2:14 am)

    I grew up with them in the Autumn in the Palouse. No big deal…no bites or stings and they die off in winter. With climate warming, I’ve seen insects in my garden I’ve never seen before on our side of the mountains….grasshoppers, crickets, and (ack) a potato beetle!

  • M. October 20, 2021 (6:24 am)

    Lots of them in Gatewood last evening! 

  • Rick October 20, 2021 (6:39 am)

    I’ve always thought the sticky sidewalks in front of my shops on California Ave. were from the trees for a month or so but was told it was aphid poop. Ick!

  • anonyme October 20, 2021 (7:22 am)

    I worked in the garden all day yesterday and didn’t notice these.  Some ants are making a reappearance after having vanished for a time.  Several were moving their colonies.  At one time a month or so ago I searched my garden and could not find a single ant.  That’s never happened before, I’ve previously identified at least 7 species there.  Fall gardens should be filled with Araneus diadematus (orb-weaving spiders) but they have been all but non-existent this year.  Haven’t seen a single large female.  Not a good sign…

    • 1994 October 20, 2021 (10:01 pm)

      I have got plenty of spiders in my yard. Some of them are pretty big! I also see the egg sacks hanging around.

  • LPM October 20, 2021 (9:16 am)

    I was at a local bar on 35th last night and within 30 seconds of getting my wine, three bugs did a nose dive and took a swim.  Yuck!  They were flying all over us.  

  • Tomas October 20, 2021 (9:37 am)

    Yeah ran thru a bunch of them by 30th and Thistle yesterday evening

  • Wseattleite October 20, 2021 (10:00 am)

    My chickens have seldom been so happy here in Gatewood. 

  • emcat8 October 20, 2021 (10:58 am)

    Thank you so much for solving this mystery–my neighbor and I here in Seaview were both like “what is up with all these bugs I just walked through?” I couldn’t believe how many were wafting through my garden–it looked like a cloud!

  • Miz Mo October 20, 2021 (11:38 am)

    I say they’re Chironomids:  Chironomidae – Wikipedia

  • Michael Ostrogorsky October 20, 2021 (11:58 am)

    Clearly a sign of the End Times!

  • Sunuva October 20, 2021 (12:38 pm)

    We’ve had these bugs show up this time of year in our backyard deck area for the last several years in Arbor Heights. I just noticed them yesterday and told my family “the blue butt bugs are back!”. They are kinda silly as they have the blue fuzzyness and they just fly around slowly in seemingly aimless patterns. They’ve never been a bother though.

  • Kristin October 20, 2021 (2:26 pm)

    We had them in Port Townsend last night, too. It was strange to see a bug that almost glowed blue. 

  • Terremoto October 21, 2021 (8:16 am)

    Thanks West Seattle Blog for the scoop!  

  • Trileigh October 21, 2021 (9:12 am)

    So that’s what these are – thanks as always for your excellent reporting! And I bet they explain the entertaining sallies of the Yellow-rumped Warblers, Hutton’s Vireos, and Ruby-crowned Kinglets, who’re spending a lot of time in my yard flitting up from shrubs to snack on this bug bonanza. Such a joy to watch.

  • Rebecca Evers October 23, 2021 (12:17 am)

    We have them in Kent too!

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