Our cool, wet spring lingered into June and July this year in the Naperville area, causing lush growth on many trees and shrubs, including the popular crabapple tree. With that abundant growth, however, we’re seeing evidence of destruction caused by aphids. Many species are common in our area, and they thrive on the plant sap of crabapple trees. You may see signs of aphids this year in particular, and will want to treat your beautiful trees to prevent too much damage.
You may notice misshapen leaves on your trees, and if you look underneath, you may see clusters of very small insects, one-eighth inch in size. The twigs of the tree may be twisted. A common sign of aphids is the sticky substance they leave behind after feasting on your tree. The Morton Arboretum tells us, “An aphid feeds on its host plant by sucking plant sap through a beaklike feeding tube inserted into plant tissue, thereby weakening stems and leaves. The ‘honeydew’ produced by the aphid is a sticky substance and can provide an environment for a black, sooty mold, which blocks light from the plant tissue.“ Many people notice sticky leaves under their crabapples as the first sign of aphids. If caught early, little damage is done to the tree, but since aphids reproduce very rapidly, damage can escalate quickly. This is especially true in growing seasons with wet, cool conditions, such as our current summer.
Controlling aphids is part of maintaining a healthy environment for crabapple trees and many other plants susceptible to their damage. Natural methods include encouraging aphid predators to keep the population down. Lady beetles do a good job, and their presence should be encouraged. Welcome a variety of winter songbirds to your outdoor space, as they will search for aphids to eat during the winter. Since aphid eggs can survive over the winter, it’s important to thoroughly clean areas around your trees to remove them.
O’Donovan and Son Landscaping has over 45 years of experience in the Naperville area, planning outdoor living spaces for your residence. We have a large selection of crabapple and other trees, and will help you select the right variety for your space. Our trees will provide many years of beauty to your home landscape. Call us at 630-355-3370 for information on making your landscape complete.