aphidsThere are scores of types of aphids that you may encounter on your landscape trees, shrubs, and flowers. Aphids come in a variety of colors ranging from amber to black to green to even white. They all have a similar body shape and they all feed in the same manner. They have what are referred to as piercing/sucking mouth parts. With these mouth parts, they will siphon the essential fluids out of a plant as they feed on them. The result will leave a puckered, wilted, or crooked-over leaves and will typically target the newest growth.

As aphids extract sugars within plant leaves, they leave behind a sugary excrement called “honeydew”. This is a desired food source for many varieties of bees and ants. Where you find an abundance of aphid activity you’ll most likely spot these individuals first because of their movement and larger size. As honeydew accumulates on leaf tissue, it is also a site where some molds such as black sooty mold will grow. This mold will cover over the photosynthesis-producing cells of the leaf, causing even more plant damage.

aphids on leafAphids will cause minor damage to plants in most situations, but repeated infestations along with other resulting conditions of mold can weaken a plant greatly. Often times it isn’t one specific plant health issue that causes a plant to die, but multiple factors such as a minor infestation (such as aphids), a plant not producing natural food resources through natural functions (mold). Add on top of those a drought situation or other issue, then a more consequential pest issue may occur such as a borer infestation, and then cause the inevitable failure of the plant. Much of this could be avoided by treating minor pest problems like that of the aphids, before it gets out of hand. Aphids will attack a wide variety of plants but often we see them the most active on Burning Bushes, Beech trees, Birch trees, and Roses.

Shrub SprayingFortunately, aphids are fairly easy to manage. There are many insecticidal soaps, horticultural oils, and low-toxicity insecticides that can either treat an existing problem or even prevent it from becoming too severe. A tree service that performs tree spraying or a plant health program will know how to address these concerns. Find a company that employs Certified Arborists that can diagnose what type of aphids you have feeding on your plants and create a plan to address these pests without harming beneficial predator insects such as Lady Beetles.

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