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Ornery Maple Trees

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by TheMom, Jun 14, 2001.

  1. TheMom

    TheMom LawnSite Member
    Messages: 66

    1. The rather large maple tree in front of our house (silver maple I think) is beginning to show signs of attack by white fuzzy things (no, not bunny rabbits). Downy aphids, maybe? I put 5 fertilizer stakes around it earlier this spring hoping to give it some resistance to whatever came along. Aside from spraying, what else can I do? (Will ladybugs eat this kind of aphid?)

    2. There is a smaller tree of the same kind down the hill and to the side of this one, on which the branches are dying back one at a time. We had it pruned last summer in hopes of arresting whatever is causing this, but no luck.

    Advice is solicited and most welcome!

  2. lawnboy82

    lawnboy82 Banned
    Messages: 957

    how big is the tree dbh? from there we may be able to help you out more.
  3. greens1

    greens1 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 352

    Hi Barbara,
    You really need to properly ID the pest. The best way to do this is call your local county extention office. When you talk with them describe your tree problem and ask what you need to bring in for a proper ID.

    Good Luck,
    Jim L
  4. TheMom

    TheMom LawnSite Member
    Messages: 66

    Here's what I've learned from a search of the Internet:

    The white stuff on my silver maple is Woolly Alder Aphids... They alternate homes on silver maple and wild alders, also alternating sexual and asexual reproductive cycles. And the white stuff isn't actually part of their sticky little bodies, it's just a filamentous, waxy secretion that they then carry around with them for a while.(According to the U of Vt anyhow.)

    Since these aphids are so adaptable and since wild alders are everywhere, the obvious place to concentrate control efforts is on the maple. There are 3 ways suggested.

    1. Squirt the white fuzz off the leaves with a hose. Hmmm... wouldn't that just spread them?

    2. Sublet the maple to some ladybugs, lacewing flies, or the Harvester (monkey-face) butterfly larva (what's that???). Ants will protect the aphids from predators, however, because the aphids produce "honeydew" which the ants drink.

    3. Spray the tree with insecticide.

    Of these three I think I'd prefer door #2 unless the aphid population gets out of hand, then I'd nuke them (and everything else that lives in the maple) with bug killer... to borrow a phrase, kill 'em all and let God sort 'em out!

    So, that's it for today, class. Next we'll find out what's killing the smaller maple in our yard...

  5. greens1

    greens1 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 352

    One other thing you may want to consider. Merit insecticide, used in a soil drench, will kill the aphids with out killing everything on the tree. Predatory insects are great but ants actually farm aphids, like a shepard with a flock of sheep. Most predatory insects cannot fend off ants and will either be consumed themselves or attack less heavily defended prey.

    Good Luck,
    Jim L
  6. TheMom

    TheMom LawnSite Member
    Messages: 66

    Thank you, Jim -- that sounds the best yet. I'll grab some Merit, then.

    Idea for a t-shirt: Aphids Suck!

  7. CSRA Landscaping

    CSRA Landscaping LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,232

    Mom, we had those things out at the house in Grassy Pond every year! Didn't we have to use some sort of spray that hooked onto the hose for them? Yes, we did, I recall it well ... :D

    But I'm fairly sure that we didn't try the Merit. Let me know how it goes.
  8. TheMom

    TheMom LawnSite Member
    Messages: 66

    Yep, we sure did have them every year, but at the time no one said anything about an alternate lifestyle for the darn things, and of course since there were many wild alders in the area it was great for the people who sold insecticides but didn't solve our problem.

    Also I was iggerant about online searches...

    So yes, I will indeed try the Merit (not a tobacco product, I trust).

    Have a good one,
    TM (aka Barbara)

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