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'Flying ticks' spotted all over Southwest Virginia

Don't worry, these bugs aren't as dangerous as they look

BLACKSBURG, Va. – You may have noticed tick-like bugs on your clothes, your car, in parking lots or in your yard. However, insect experts say the critters aren't as dangerous as they seem.

The bugs are actually called yellow poplar weevils and they are harmless to humans and animals.

Virginia Tech Extension entomologist Eric Day studies insects. He said he's received a lot of calls about the bugs from concerned citizens and farmers, but there's nothing to worry about.

"They don't bite. They don't carry disease. They don't sting," Day said.

Jacob Hudgins is an outdoorsman and noticed these "flying" ticks. Because he has spent so much time outside, he knows what a real tick looks like and knew the weevils were different.

"I've seen a lot of things that are a lot scarier than that," Hudgins said. "I wouldn't freak out."

Day said it's important to be on the lookout for ticks because they can carry diseases. 

American dog, Lone Star and deer ticks are usually brown or reddish and have eight legs. Harmless yellow popular weevils are black and rounder, have six legs and can fly.

Weevils feed on yellow poplar tulips, sassafras and magnolia trees.

"They're a very minor pest on trees and shrubs," Day said. "But they recover, so trees can take defoliation for a year or two."

Weevil outbreaks occur every five to 10 years starting around June.

"We may see them again next year. We may not," Day said.

The bugs will be around for another two to three weeks before they get ready to hibernate.


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