sticky leaves - Knowledgebase Question

Albuquerque, Ne
Question by dthornton45
October 18, 2010
My flowering plum, plum and apple tree leaves are covered with a sticky substance. It even drips on to our patio furniture that sits below the trees. I don't see any insects. What could be causing this? Duane Thornton, Albuquerque, NM


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Answer from NGA
October 18, 2010

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The sticky substance is most likely honeydew and indicates an insect population on your fruit and ornamental trees. When sucking insects such as aphids, scales and mealybugs feed on the fluids within the tissues of the trees they excrete a sticky substance called honeydew. Although you may not see insects at this time of year, the sticky substance indicates they were feeding earlier in the spring or summer. The sticky substance can be washed off the leaves with water from the hose and will wash off in a rainstorm. Be sure to rake the leaves up when they fall later in the season and then inspect your trees when new leaves emerge in the spring. Insecticidal soap will control aphids but repeat sprays may be necessary. Look also for raised bumps on the stems and twigs of your trees. Scale insects attach themselves to the bark of trees and often take on the brown appearance of the bark. If you find scale insects on the trees you can suffocate them with horticultural oil. Often called dormant oil, horticultural oil should be applied in the winter months, according to label directions. Hope this solves the problem. Best wishes with your trees!

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