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

Prickly pear doing poorly on Long Island NY
December 27, 2012 - First, thanks for your reply on 11-3-12, re.Can a prickly pear cutting from Harker Heights, TX find happiness in Long Island, NY. The plants were set before a southern window in the attic, temp. ra...
view the full question and answer

When is it time to remove diseased oak trees in Belton, TX?
May 03, 2013 - When to give up on my live oaks. We lost/mostly several live oaks since 2011 and the drought. One, died from the crown, one large mass at a time, and now resembles a 10' totem pole with scraggly gro...
view the full question and answer

Incorrectly planted anacua from San Antonio
November 22, 2013 - I purchased a 12' anacua tree from a local nursery about 18 months ago. It was not planted correctly (root bound, rolled into a hole about 3" larger than the pot) but is still alive with the number...
view the full question and answer

Native Grass is Falling Over
November 09, 2011 - Hi Mr. Smarty Plants, I've tried to find this answer but am stumped as to the cause. We live in Fredericksburg, TX and have several different tall grasses, Yellow Indian grass, Little Bluestem, wire...
view the full question and answer

Texas Pistachio trees dropping leaves in Austin
June 09, 2010 - I have several Texas Pistachio that are about 13 years old. Despite good rainfall in Travis county this year, they seem to be losing most of their new leaf growth now in early June. Leaves are simpl...
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