Aphid Alley

September 11, 2017

3,700 feet of new trail and over 200 hours of volunteer work went in to a new section of trail out at Johnston Mill Nature Preserve. Starting back in May, the Conservation Corps volunteers broke ground on a new segment now called Aphid Alley. We’ll get to the name in a minute. They worked week after week on this section, using all the tools in our trailer to get the job done right. I think the results speak for themselves, and I hope you’re able to find your way out to Johnston Mill and enjoy the new Aphid Alley. The new spur will be a summer escape from the Old Field Bluff Trail, and allow hikers to escape the power line section where the sun can be relentless during the hottest months of the year. Furthermore, it’ll provide a wonderful loop on the north side of Old Field Creek and offer a hike with gentle elevation gain along through the forests out at Johnston Mill Nature Preserve.

A few of the critters we found as we constructed the trail; Top: eastern worm snake, Bottom: marbled salamander

There were many names that came to mind when we were constructing the trail. Copperhead Connector, a tribute to the 3 we saw during our construction, White Rock Trail in regards to the quartz we found along the way, and Millipede Mile which was scrapped when the trail length failed to reach one mile, were all top suggestions. Aphid Alley rose to the top of the charts because of the many branches of beech trees we found which were covered in the beech blight aphid, or sometimes referred to as the “boogie-woogie aphid”. The boogie-woogie aphid is a small insect that when disturbed, shakes its posterior side to side to make it look like the entire branch is dancing away. The aphids themselves generally cause little harm to the trees overall health, but usually do quite literally suck the life out of the branch they call home.

Beech blight aphid, or “boogie-woogie” aphid if you prefer, photo from www.carolinanature.com

If you’re looking for a new section of woods to travel through, check out Aphid Alley and do the boogie-woogie down this new section of trail. This is The Dirt – Tales from the Field. As always feel free to contact me, [email protected], with any questions you may have about stewardship happenings here at TLC!

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