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In Brief

God's Tears? Nah, Just Aphid Excrement

Pea aphids.
Pea aphids. (Image credit: PLoS Biology, February 2010, Creative Commons)

A small but growing number of parishioners have flocked to a particular crape myrtle tree outside of a Catholic church in Fresno, Calif. Their prayers reportedly have been rewarded with "God's tears," drops of moisture from the trees that they take as a blessing and sign of divine favor, according to WPTV, a local NBC affiliate.

"When you say 'glory be to God in Jesus name' the tree starts throwing out more water," parishioner Maria Ybarra told WPTV.

Local arborist Jon Reelhorn took a look and agreed that something is coming out of the trees. But it's not exactly water. "The aphids will suck the sap, the sap goes through the aphid and then it is a honey dew excrement from the aphid, and it gets so heavy in the summertime that it will drip down," Reelhorn said.

The "tears," in other words, are bug droppings. Nobody call the Pope just yet. 

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Douglas Main
Douglas Main loves the weird and wonderful world of science, digging into amazing Planet Earth discoveries and wacky animal findings (from marsupials mating themselves to death to zombie worms to tear-drinking butterflies) for Live Science. Follow Doug on Google+.