Monday, August 30, 2021

White Fluff Floating in the Air

In the past several weeks, you may have been noticing white fluff floating in the air.  Maybe you are finding it on your plants.   But most certainly, you are wondering what it is.  These are wooly aphids - a species of aphid that grows a white waxy coating on their body.  Like all aphids, there are forms that can fly and you are likely seeing them flying around as they are dislodged from the leaves they are feeding.

Aphids have piercing and sucking mouthparts and feed mainly on the phloem of leaves.  This sticky food produces sticky excrement called honeydew.  Park or walk on a deck under a well infested tree and you'll feel and see that honeydew... tiny dots of sticky mess that you have to clean off your windshields each morning.

If you are lucky enough to have a good rain storm, this will help with that woolly aphid population by knocking them off the plants, breaking their delicate bodies and reducing their numbers.  

No need to panic about them.  I think the species we are seeing in South Central Texas are hackberry woolly aphids and the hackberries will survive.  They may also be found on other plants and trees (I have them all over my cedar elms), but they are not harming those well established, healthy plants.  A bit of cooler weather, a few more showers, and we'll start to see them decrease until they are a memory.