Pest Alert: Spring Aphids
March 22, 2016
The nice weather has not only been good for us, but also good for pests in your landscape plants and trees. Precipitation from last year resulted in a boom in insect populations and they continued to reproduce through our mild winter. Due to these favorable conditions you may begin to notice problems on your trees or other landscape plants a bit early. We’ve noticed a big outbreak of aphids this past week and they’re showing up on roses, landscape shrubs, citrus and the new growth on large shade trees.
What are aphids?
Aphids are one of the most common pest every gardener encounters. There are about 4,000 species worldwide and they can tolerate a variety of conditions. Aphids range in color from green, yellow, red, and brown and are very tiny in size. You will typically see them on the new tender growth on your plants or on the underside of the leaves. They reproduce quickly and can devastate your landscape plants. They damage your plants with their piercing mouth, in order to get the available nutrients.
Do your trees have aphids?
If you have noticed new growth on your trees that looks curled or deformed, or sticky dripping liquid coming from your tree, your plant most likely has aphids. The new emerging lives will become distorted as a result of the aphids robbing the sugars leaf cells. The sticky residue (honeydew) is what they excrete, which can lead to fungal problems if left uncontrolled. Crape myrtles are especially vulnerable to sooty mold, which grows on aphid honeydew.
What caused the aphid outbreak?
Pests are opportunistic in a sense that they cull the weak plants in your landscape. Pests can sometimes be an an indicator that there is an underlying issue within the plant. The heavy rains and flooding last year leached many valuable nutrients from our soil; leaving most of our urban trees with nutrient deficiencies. Environmental stresses such as these lead to your trees being more susceptible to pests.
What can you do?
Depending on the impact they are having on your trees and other landscape plants, you may not have to do anything and let nature run its course by letting beneficial insects, such as ladybugs, take care of the aphids for you. However, if your tree was already stressed, and you’re noticing deformed new growth emerging, then it’s best you treat for the aphids now. You can apply sprays of horticultural oil or insecticidal soaps on smaller trees, but if you have a large tree that needs help, you’ll need to turn to a professional tree care provider. We offer organic pest control and, when necessary, more assertive options.