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NYC plagued by insect swarms, smoky haze
Image credit: USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture

NYC plagued by insect swarms, smoky haze

New Yorkers are being plagued with swarms of flying bugs amid a smoky haze from Canadian wildfires as they head in to Independence Day festivities, the New York Times reported.

The winged menace being swatted away to little avail are aphids, experts say, not gnats, as some battling the minuscule bugs had mistakenly surmised.

Fortunately, the aphids present no health concern. Unfortunately, they present a considerable nuisance to natives and tourists alike.

Swarms this time of year are unusual, as aphids don't typically come out in New York City until after summer, Professor David Lohman, an entomologist at the City University of New York, told WNBC. Lohman theorized the warm winter could have contributed to the early arrival.

"I wanted to dodge them. One of them flew in my nose and it was not pleasant," Martin Perez, an Upper East Sider told the outlet.

The soft bodied, green or white insects emerge to coordinate reproduction, Dr. Corrie Moreau, a Cornell University entomology professor told the New York Times. Moreau agrees with Lohman that the warm winter is to blame for the timing.

Folks who have accidentally swallowed aphids as they make their way through the swarm have little cause for concern, Moreau also said, adding that people should be wearing masks anyway due to air quality concerns.

The bugs' appearance is not likely to be related to smoke from the Canadian wildfires, State University of New York entomologist Kim Adams told the outlet, remarking on the haze that has descended on the city once again.

Though the smoke appears unrelated to the aphids, it does add to beleaguered Gothamists' discomfort.

As of Saturday afternoon, the air quality index level for New York City was in the "unhealthy for sensitive groups" range at 105.

New Yorkers are not alone in facing a hazy summer.

"The number of people that are exposed is unprecedented in the modern era," Michael Wara, an energy and climate policy expert at Stanford University told the Washington Post.

Air quality alerts affected 23 states Thursday, the outlet also said.

A "Code Red" warning was issued Thursday as smog drifted back into D.C., WTOP reported.

Experts say smog and haze can be especially problematic for people with conditions like asthma and chronic lung diseases. They recommend paying attention to local air quality reports, staying indoors, and running an air conditioner.

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