Fuzzy bugs in Hopkins County: Woolly Aphids are the culprit

During early last week, I got several phone calls related to fuzzy white bugs falling from the sky. Early this week, a concerned citizen brought to the Hopkins County Extension Office a tree sample in a glass jar with woolly aphids (Family Eriosomatinae). According to Dr. Mike Merchant, Urban Entomologist and Extension Specialist, pointed out (Aug. 2012): Control is probably not necessary unless the honeydew is becoming unacceptable, in which case they might try dinotefuran (Greenlight Safari) instead of the imidacloprid recommended below.  It is faster at getting into the tree. Aphids suck plant sap from leaves, stems or even roots of plants.  Most are very host-specific, meaning they feed on only one or a few related kinds of plants.  Therefore, there is usually little danger they will move to other, different kinds of plants.  If wilting is apparent, or the sticky honeydew (aphid droppings, may result in plant covered with black sooty mold) become a problem, control with insecticides labeled for aphid control.  Otherwise, leave them alone and watch nature take its course with predators and parasitoids coming in to feast on these pests.  Among the choices for control, insecticidal soaps and horticultural oils are good, low-impact options for these insects.  Be sure to spray leaf undersides and contact the aphids directly, for these sprays only kill on contact.  Bayer Advanced Tree & Shrub, or other product containing imidacloprid, can be an effective aphid control, but it may take a month for results to become apparent. Dr. Carlos E. Bográn, previously an Associate Professor & Extension Specialist with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, commented: “I also suggest trying high pressure water sprays to wash out the aphids and the heaviest wax accumulations to facilitate foraging by ladybeetles and other predators and clean up the plants.  Some time ago I helped with a research program trying to evaluate the effects of several factors on the growth of oaks. Young oak trees were field planted under different shade and rain exclusion conditions. We had high natural infestations of oak woolly aphids that year but the ones protected from rain had much more aphids, sooty mold and aesthetic damage than unprotected oaks.” So, another mystery resolved!. Woolly aphids do fly and can direct its route. So next time you find fuzzy little white bugs, you might have run into wooly aphids!. For more information on this or any other agricultural topic please contact the Hopkins County Extension Office at 903-885-3443 or email me at [email protected].

Mario Villarino DVM, Ph.D.
Hopkins County Extension Agent for Ag and NR
1200B Houston Street
Sulphur Springs, Texas 75482
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