What are Aphids?
Aphids are tiny, soft-bodied, pear-shaped insects that are found clustered together on the leaves and needles of trees and shrubs. Aphids will attack a wide variety of tree and shrub species. These insects are commonly found on ash, aspen, apple, linden, certain conifer species, and many other ornamental trees and shrubs. Some aphids spend their entire life on one plant while others go from plant to plant. An aphid population can also increase in numbers very quickly, making dealing with them a top priority for any lawn care oriented household.
What are signs of Aphid damage?
There are a few different signs you can use to identify if you have aphid activity in your trees or shrubs. The leaves of the tree may appear to be curled, thickened, or discolored. This damage occurs when the aphid sucks the sap and plant juices out of the tree leaf or needle. Because the aphids are unable to fully digest all of the sugars of the plant sap, it will excrete the excess in a liquid form called “honeydew”. This residue will drop onto leaves, branches, tree trunks, cars, and patios leaving a distinct shiny look. Sooty mold may also develop on the honeydew and cause those surfaces to appear dirty. Ants will feed on this honeydew and are often present where aphids are actively feeding.
Aphids need to be controlled at the first sign of an attack in order to provide the best protection for your trees and plants. There are many natural predators of the aphids that include ladybugs, green lacewings, and other parasitic wasps. When large populations of aphids are present and natural predators cannot mitigate the insect, insecticides may need to be implemented. In most cases, depending on the location of the attack, a foliar spray is the most effective type of lawn pest control treatment for these bugs. Repeat applications may be necessary as re-infestation can occur. In certain cases, the trees may also be systemically injected to control a present generation of aphids or to provide season-long control against the insects. The micro-injection is very timing specific and should be performed at leaf emergence up until leaves are fully mature for the best results.