Plant Lice

“Plant Lice” is the layman’s term for common plant insects known as Aphids. They come in all colors, and while I’ve most often seen green ones, this Spring they are mostly black in color. I’ve been seeing so many plants with aphids, I’m about to nickname this “The Year of the Aphid!”

Distorted new growth (as seen in these photos) on the growing tips of two Euonymus shrubs, called for a closer examination, which revealed the presence of APHIDS.

The second tell tale sign of their presence on a tree or shrub, is a steady stream of ants, up and down the branches.

Ants actually have a symbiotic relationship with Aphids, moving them to the best feeding spots (which are usually the tender branch tips) in return for their share of ‘the sweets,’ also known as honeydew, that is extracted from the host plant, by the Aphids.

You might even call ants “aphid farmers!”

If you ever parked your car under a tree infested with Aphids, you’re already aware of the third telltale sign of an aphid infestation on a tree, due to the sticky drippings of that honeydew, on anything below. This sticky honeydew will also attract bees and yellow jackets, and will encourage the growth of Black Sooty Mold on plant leaves.

You can count those black- colored leaves and stems, the fourth tell tale sign, of an insect infestation, whether it’s aphids, scale, or some other insect. These sticky drops also appear as shiny spots on plant leaves below the infestation.

My first annual shearing of this shrub (in another week or two) usually removes most of the growing tips, along with the Aphids, without any sort of insecticide ever needing to be applied. An environmentally- friendly solution! As an update to this blog, my shearing solution didn’t take place soon enough, or the infestation was too heavy for it to work. Therefore, I purchased some insecticidal soap as the next best environmentally- friendly solution. Cooler temperatures this morning, with very little wind, provided a great opportunity to apply the spray!

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