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John Fulton

John Fulton
Former County Extension Director

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In The Backyard

Horticulture columns and tips done on a timely basis
sycamore lacebug

Sticky Mess and Black Mold Under Trees

Posted by John Fulton -

People are beginning to complain about leaking sap coming from trees. Actually this has been going on for a week or so, with maple trees being one of the primary tree species identified. What happens is a fine mist of sap coats things beneath a tree. This is actually called "honeydew," which is a secretion of sucking insects such as aphids and lace bugs. There are different species of lace bugs for most plants. The same can go for many species of aphids. What makes matters worse is a fungus begins growing in the honeydew, making it turn black.

There are two ways to deal with the problem. The first way is to spray the entire tree with a product, such as malathion, bifenthrin, or permethrin, to kill the insects. The second way is to move anything portable from under the tree. If you opt for the first option, you need to make sure you can spray the entire tree. The weather we have experienced has increased aphid numbers at a very great rate. Many of the natural controls, such as lady bugs and syrphid flies are also evident of a large number of aphids.

The end effect on the tree isn't all that great as long as adequate moisture is available. This means a shot of water when it stays dry for a week or more. We'll also be coming up on lawn fertilization time in about a month, so that fertilizer will help the trees as well.

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