Fuzzy white or woolly aphids are very similar to their non-woolly aphid cousins. They are true bugs of the Arthropoda phylum. The adult bugs have wings, but the nymphs’ tiny, wingless bodies are slightly bluish or greenish and are covered with a white, fuzzy, waxy material that protects them.
Finding a congregation of woolly aphid nymphs on your shrub branches can be alarming, but take heart in the fact that they don’t usually cause a great deal of damage.
They are mostly unsightly and annoying. In this article, we discuss fuzzy white aphids and share advice on how you can get rid of them.
What Kind of Damage to Fuzzy White Aphids Cause?
Like all aphids, woolly aphids are sap suckers that draw moisture from leaves, twigs, and other parts of plants. Woolly aphids are typically found on trees. Large infestation may cause curling and distortion of leaves.
Trees and shrubs heavily infested with woolly aphids will have curling, twisted leaves. Leaves may also turn yellow, and the plant may fail to thrive. Heavy infestation may cause branches to die back, and galls or cankers may even develop on the roots or limbs of the tree.
In addition to affecting trees in the spring and summertime by laying eggs and sucking the sap, woolly aphids can also be found in nearby stands of dead weeds and other wild growth during the wintertime.
What Kind of Trees do Woolly Aphids Like?
There are several types of shrubs and trees that are especially attractive to woolly aphids. Among them are Crabapple and Hawthorne trees. Late in the summertime, you may see sporadic infestations of these trees and others. The severity and frequency of infestation vary from tree to tree and place to place.
Additionally, there are several different species of woolly aphids. You may have an infestation of one type very early in the growing season and entirely another type late in the growing season.
The different varieties of woolly aphid populations may affect different kinds of trees. For example, some types favor Maple trees over Hawthorne and Crabapple.
How Can You Tell Your Tree is Infested by Wooly Aphids?
You’ll usually find woolly aphids in large, easy-to-see groups. They feed on the bark, branches, twigs, leaves, and buds of trees. Sometimes, they can even be found in a mass on the roots.
Other signs of aphids include an accumulation of wax on various parts of affected plants. Additionally, the sweet, sticky residue and droppings of the pests (honeydew) can be found on parts of the plant where the pests are present. Honeydew also drops to the ground surrounding affected plants.
Layers of honeydew provide an ideal setting for a black fungus called sooty mold to develop. Although sooty mold does not damage plants, it does interfere with photosynthesis and can weaken plants so that they are even more susceptible to pest infestation and disease.
How Can You Get Rid of Woolly Aphids?
Luckily, woolly aphid infestation is easy to control and eradicate. Just like their non-woolly cousins, fuzzy white aphids can be blasted off plants with a strong spray of water.
Additionally, their numbers are usually kept in check by natural enemies and predators such as:
If you notice a heavy infestation of woolly aphids on your plants, start out by simply blasting them with a strong spray of soapy water.
Kill off any stragglers and discourage any new infestation with a follow-up area spray with insecticidal soap or a neem oil mixture. Repeat treatments until you are sure the infestation has been eradicated.
In very severe infestations, you may want to cut away affected branches.
If you simply cannot get rid of fuzzy white aphids any other way, you can use an insecticide such as acephate (Orthene) to get rid of them.
How Serious Is Woolly Aphid Infestation?
Most of the time, these pests do not cause a great deal of damage. Infestations are typically not heavy, and sap loss is typically insignificant.
You may see a premature shriveling, drooping, and dropping of leaves that have been badly damaged by woolly aphids, but this doesn’t usually impact the overall health of the tree.