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Beware of the Sticky Black Sap! You May Have a Hack berry Woolly Aphid

Around this time of year garden centers begin to receive a lot of inquiries from people who have noticed an influx of white flies on their hack berry trees. But if you take a closer look, you’ll notice that these white flies appear to be a tad furry. That’s because these intruders are not white flies at all. They are Asian woolly aphids. Call Kyle Tree Service CO.

Have you ever heard of them before?  Well, there’s a first time for everything. Wooly aphids are tiny white insects that drop from hackberry trees seeming to drift along carried by the air. If you have an infestation of these, you’ll soon notice that it can get pretty messy.

Signs of a Woolly Aphid Infestation

Wooly aphids draw the sap out of the tree leaves and release a sticky residue referred to as honeydew. This causes a black mold, called sooty mold to liberally coat the leaves, stems, and even the bark of the tree. This black mold is sticky, and it blankets the hackberry tree, and can also coat any object or plant that happens to be beneath it. 

If you’ve taken note of black soot suddenly showing up on plants that have never displayed it before, odds are you have a hackberry tree either directly above them or somewhere close by. This black soot can be unpleasant, even a bit nasty because it’s inclined to get on cars, lawn mowers, outdoor furniture, and basically anything else that’s in the immediate area.

How to Control A Wooly Aphid Infestation

Although your first instinct is probably to use an insecticide, this isn’t always required. However, should the honeydew and sooty mold continue to grow in large proportions, they may eventually force you to do just that. If the tree hasn’t yet reached the point where spraying is unmanageable and you’d like to stay natural, you can use Spinosad. This is a natural substance that is created by bacterium and is fatal to insects. It can be used to control an array of insect pests.

When it comes to bigger hackberry trees, because of the enormous height they can achieve, you may have to hire a professional if you want the leaves sprayed. The downside of this is that it can prove to be quite expensive. If you want to control the problem yourself, you can use a systemic insecticide as a root drench all around the bottom of the tree. You should be aware that systemic chemicals, while effective, take a few weeks to progress from the tree roots to the leaves.

The best time to use systemic insecticides is in the early spring, and in late summer for extra control, even though wooly aphids don’t arrive until June or July. That way you can nip the problem in the bud before it even begins, although advance spraying won’t eliminate the situation altogether.

Other than this particular problem, the hackberry is a great tree that attracts plenty of birds to its wealth of berries. It is also known to host the Snout butterfly. All of these advantages make it a tree well worth maintaining and keeping on your property for many years to come. 

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