Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Tulip Tree Scale Bugs: Making A Mess!

I can only hope that where you live, your poplar trees are not infected with these bugs!  Here in Indiana, our mild winter has allowed the tree scale bug population to explode.  These tiny bugs attach to twigs where they suck out the sap and cause a sticky rain to coat everything beneath its canopy in a sticky gross mess!   sticky sapIf you walk beneath the trees, it literally feels like it is raining!

When the boys come in from playing soccer, their shoes are black and sticky.  Their legs are black and sticky.  The ball is black and sticky.  And the puppy, who likes to play along, needs a bath BIG TIME!! 

The sticky rain is called honey dew—though there is nothing sweet about the mess it is making everywhere!!!  Honey Dew

The stressed trees put out fewer leaves and a sooty mold begins to cover the sticky stuff secreted by the bugs—on the trees, on the vegetation beneath, …on everything.   The trees will likely die if left untreated.  stressed trees

I’ve read that one way to treat them is to spray the entire tree with a tree-friendly oil that coats the immobile bugs and smothers them.  Unfortunately, that’s something that can cost BIG bucks (PER TREE) to do properly because you need the tall equipment to reach the tops.  :( We have way too many trees to even consider this.

I’ve also read that systemic insecticides might be effective applied in the fall.  But that doesn’t help us now.  I don’t claim to be a tree expert.  If the bugs are in your area, you’ll want to do your own research.  But if you know of something we can do to combat this that won’t cost an arm and a leg, please share about it!

Sadly, we’ve had to take a number of the worst trees down.    downed trees

Cleanup on these things was one of the worst jobs ever!  The gooey sticky branches and their gooey sticky leaves stuck to our hands, arms, legs and clothes.  They stuck to the tractors, wagons, rakes and wheels.  It was hysterical to hear the leaves flapping round and round on the tires as the kids drove the wagonloads of branches to the burn pile. 

I didn’t dare bring my camera out for that part.  The sticky would have coated that as well!  But it was a sight!  Trust me!

A neighbor who came by to help fell the trees didn’t stick around for the clean up.  He laughed and said he hated to run (yeah, right!).  He had a craving for pancakes and syrup! Lol! 

That is exactly the kind of sticky that covered everything!!

By the time we were done, we had to strip in the garage and take our black sticky selves straight to the showers.

brush piles

We now have several HUGE brush piles.  I guess at some point we’ll have to divide them up and burn them a little at a time.

The sad part is, we will miss their shade until we can grow some replacements. 

The even sadder part is that we still have a number of trees we need to take down.   I can’t even tell you how much I am NOT looking forward to THAT!


in the coop said...

Oh my word, that is awful. We don't have any of that, and I pray that those nasty things don't make it here. I'm a bit concerned, though, as you don't live all that far from me.

Penny said...

I haven't done any research on this at all, and I've never heard of those nasty things! UGH!!
Since they're attracted to sap, could you try a container of sugar water at the base of a tree, hoping they'll like that, and drown? For the trees that haven't been affected, is there a way to protect them, a barrier at the trunk of some sort? Borax comes to mind, although I've read that isn't very pet friendly. I hope you figure this out before you lose many more trees!

It Feels Like Chaos said...

That really is a mess! How awful! Sorry for your sticky situation!

Charlotte Tree Service said...

Ugh! Better watch out, that sticky mess they're producing could attract EVEN MORE pests and insects. Insects that disease trees should be watched for constantly, as if they make their way inside of the tree they can kill it. Anyway, god bless and happy gardening!! Looking forward to more.

-Tony Salmeron
Tree Service Charlotte