En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Sunday - August 22, 2010

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders
Title: Aphid infestation from hackberries in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I've got 5 hackberry trees in my yard and they are all heavily infested with woolly aphids! I wouldn't usually mind, but the aphids are now all over my newly planted native plants. I've read up on treating the plants, but I figure it won't be of permanent use because the main source is untreated. What's the best way to treat my hackberries? They are pretty tall and personally spraying them w/a high-pressure hose is out of the question. Help!!!

ANSWER:

We are assuming you had the Celtis occidentalis (common hackberry) on your property when you moved  in because most people seem to look down their noses at these trees native to this area, drought resistant and sturdy.  Not only that, but hackberries are among the best food and shelter plants for wildlife; the fruit is relished by birds. From Bug Guide, we found these pictures of Woolly Aphids, not a pretty picture.

You are correct that spraying your tall trees would be a challenge, and the creatures will overwinter in the cracks of the bark on those trees. This University of California Integrated Pest Management website on Hackberry Woolly Aphids mentions several lines of treatment,  but, frankly, we don't think this is something an individual can handle. This article refers to another species of the genus Celtis, Celtis sinensis, Chinese hackberry, but we believe their suggestions for control would still be valid for the common hackberry. 

We hate to tell you this, but we think you may need professional help with the aphids in the trees. You can continue to treat your newly planted native plants, just to help them survive the onslaught. Soon, believe it or not, the leaves will be gone from the hackberries, and the spread of the aphids will stop, for the moment.  As the material we have referred you to says, the eggs of the aphids overwinter in the cracks of bark on the trees, and dormant treatments don't seem to be too effective. None the less, you are going to have to deal with the source, because they will be right back in the Spring. 

 

 

More Diseases and Disorders Questions

Non-fruiting squash
July 25, 2007 - With all this rain in Dallas why would our Zuchinni and Yellow squash be beautiful and green but not produce any squash?
view the full question and answer

Texas Mountain Laurel oozing sap in Spicewood, TX.
July 05, 2012 - We have a Texas mountain laurel that seems to be sweating. Oozing sap with no apparent signs of any type of bore holes, or holes made from any birds.
view the full question and answer

Moth using Agarita as its larval food in New Braunfels, TX
March 27, 2009 - What moth uses agarita as its larval food? It is a perennial problem that can nearly defoliate the specimen and severely limit its flower production.
view the full question and answer

Brown spots on young redbuds in Lincoln TX
August 01, 2010 - I have lined my driveway in Lee County Texas with Red bud trees purchased both in Dripping Springs and in College Station. The 14 trees are of varying ages and heights (planted during the fall and wi...
view the full question and answer

Reason for tree canopy dieback from Mahopac NY
May 21, 2012 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants: Not a questions, just sharing, re person in Texas whose Ash Jupiter appeared to be dying "canopy very thin on top". We moved to Putnam Co. NY in 1970. Our house was shaded by...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center