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If you’ve noticed white fuzz on the trees and leaves in your garden lately, it’s not snow or cotton – this white coating is actually insects. These fluffy white bugs are called Asian woolly hackberry aphids and commonly appear in the upper-southern region of the United States and much of Asia. While they don’t cause harm to humans, they are a nuisance to homeowners due to the sticky sap they produce.
Much like bedbugs, these parasites typically appear in the fall, with sightings reported in the Southeast, the South Midwest, Texas and California, according to HGTV. While the insects don’t bite or sting, they still cause a nuisance by producing a sweet, sticky honeydew when they feed on the sap of mulberry and hackberry. The clear goop then falls on sidewalks, cars and anything below them.
The honeydew causes additional discomfort by then promoting the growth of sooty mold, a type of fungus that looks like sooty mold. Although black grain can cause leaves to fall off trees earlier, scientists have not found any long-term negative effects. That doesn’t mean homeowners don’t want to get rid of fluffy insects, however.
How to get rid of woolly aphids
To remove fluffy aphids from your property, you can start by spraying them with water. A little pressure from the hose can kill aphids without pulling out the foliage, advises University of Tennessee horticulturalist Amy Dismukes. Keep them from spreading further by also giving the shrubs plenty of TLC.
“As always, healthy plants are less prone to attack, so use cultural controls to make your hackberry happy,” she wrote in her Spring Hill Home Page column. This includes proper soil moisture, undisturbed roots, and no fertilizers, unless there is a nutrient deficiency.
Non-residual contact insecticides can also reduce the population of woolly aphids. Bonide Horticultural Oil or Safer-branded Bug Soap can keep things under control, according to the State-wide Pest Management Program at the University of California.
If aphids infest your garden every year, consider applying a systemic insecticide like Bayer Advanced 12 Month Tree & Shrub Insect Control or Bonide Annual Tree & Shrub Insect Control Concentrate around tree trunks in late winter or in the morning. early spring. Never apply these products while plants are flowering, as they can harm the natural enemies of aphids and important pollinators. Don’t bother in the fall either, as the leaves will be falling soon anyway.
While these parasites may irritate you now, have hope that they won’t stick around for long. The first frost usually wipes out mature aphids like their eggs over the winter, creating a mess again the next year.
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