If your car’s windshield is covered with speckles of a clear, sticky substance you probably parked under a tree infested with Aphids and/or Scale Insects. Aphids and Scale Insects are very common. Both have “piercing-sucking” mouth parts and basically suck the juices out of the tree. It is unlikely that Aphids will kill a tree or shrub but Scale will kill a tree in 2-3 years if not treated.
But the story gets better…
Is sap dripping all over my car?
Not really. In the spring & early summer, these Aphids and Scale Insects constantly feed on the sap of the infested plants and what you see on your car is the‘honeydew’ (polite term for excrement) from the Aphids and Scale. This secretion also coats the leaves of the plants with the shiny, sticky, substance.
So, what happens next?
An infestation of Aphids and Scale Insects starts as a tree care problem but quickly and moves onto traditional Household Pest Control Problems.
Bees & Wasps
Often the most urgent calls we receive related to Aphids and Scale Insects are due to Bees & Wasps that are attracted to the honeydew covered trees and shrubs. Trees and shrubs can be loaded with Bees and Wasps that come to join in on this feeding frenzy. While Bees and Wasps feed off of the honeydew and Black Sooty Mold (which grows on top of the honeydew), they do not typically nest in the tree or shrub where they are feeding. Controlling stinging-insects works best when the nest is found and destroyed, therefore it can take some detective work to eliminate Bee & Wasp problems associated with Aphids and Scale Insects. However, even if the nest cannot be found (or is not on our customer’s property), Green Giant‘s technicians still have ways to greatly reduce your risk of getting stung.
Ants are also attracted to the infested plants to feed on the sugary honeydew. Interestingly, the always resourceful ants will then “farm” the Aphids & Scale Insects – much like human farmers move livestock from one pasture to another. Yes, ants continually move “herds” of Aphids & Scale Insects from areas on the plant where they have already fed (and weakened the plant)to healthy areas of the plants (greener pastures) so they can continue to feed and provide the ants a guaranteed supply of sugar-rich food. In this mutual relationship, the ants will also fight off predators of their honeydew-producing friends.
The ants may or may not be a problem; it just depends on where they are and if they will find their way into your home or outdoor eating areas. Learn more about ant control and removal!
What To Do about Aphids or Scale Insects?
Scale and Aphids are controllable. The difficulty comes with the timing of treatments. Two treatments a year are needed and, if even only one is not timed correctly, the pests will survive and continue to damage your plant material. Green Giant provides expert Tree Care, Pest Control and Lawn Care services and can help you with this sticky situation! Check out our video on Aphid or Scale Insect excrement detection below!