Aphids are one of the most common insect pests of trees and shrubs. These sucking insects feed on plant juices, attacking leaves, stems, buds, flowers, fruit, and/or roots, depending on the species. Aphid feeding can cause foliage discoloration, distortion and gall formation. When a large population feeds for an extended period of time, wilted leaves, stunted shoots, or shoot dieback may result.
Aphids produce a clear, sticky liquid called honeydew as they feed. Honeydew is a sugary waste product that is excreted by the aphid after it feeds on the plant juices. This honeydew is often colonized by sooty mold, several species of fungi that are dark in color. Sooty mold colonization gives stems and leaves a blackened appearance.
Most aphid damage occurs in spring and these pests can commonly found on leaf undersides. It is important to monitor and treat for aphids early in the season in order to avoid heavy infestations and damage.
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