How to Control Woolly Aphids on Apple and Olive Trees?

When you notice small bits of cotton-ish fluffs floating in your garden during sunny fall afternoon, then it isn’t snow but woolly aphids.

Though they usually don’t overpopulate a place but do become an infestation sometimes.

They may damage the plant leaves in your garden and end up leaving a sticky residue on trees. 

If you notice one or more aphid in your yard, they may not be enough to damage your trees and garden.

But an aphid colony can be destructive to plants.

They pierce leaves and plants through their small mouthparts and suck saps.

You can easily get rid of small numbers by hand, but a large woolly aphid population in your orchid yard may require unique removal techniques.

What are Woolly Aphids?

Just like the other kinds of aphids, woolly aphids are sap-sucking pests from the insect family.

Woolly aphids are of about ¼ inch size.

Though they are usually blue or green in color but look fuzzy because of white, sticky material which covers their body.

These insect pests need two hosts: first for overwintering and laying eggs during spring and second for feeding during summer.

Signs of Woolly Aphid Infestation

Woolly aphids usually feed in groups.

Especially they love feeding on apple and olive trees but can also be seen eating buds, bark, twigs, foliage or roots.

Damage can be noticed by the curled or twitched leaves, yellow color of foliage, undergrowth of plant, growth of cankers and galls on roots or limbs, and branch dieback.

You can see wax accumulation along with sticky residue called honeydew.

Also, you may notice some plants covered with sooty mold, usually a black fungus which looks like soot.

Though it doesn’t damage the plant on its own, but eliminating aphids and honeydew will help you in preventing sooty mold.

There are a number of signs which reveal that your plants are being attacked by woolly aphids. Some of them are given below:

a) Discoloration of leaves

While sucking saps from the plants, the aphids take the nutrients too.

They lead to undernourishment of the plants and hence you see discoloration of leaves.

The higher the aphids attack and suck sap, the more the leaves will turn yellow and twist.

b) Honeydew and other growth on plants

Just like the other aphid species, they also leave honeydew behind.

If you notice sticky residue on your trees and leaves, then you can know it is them!

Honeydew attracts other insect pests too.

Hence you may notice a sudden rise in them which can be a sign that your plants are being attacked by woolly aphids.

You may notice growth of galls and cankers on your plants because of woolly aphids.

Hence, make sure you notice such growths. If you notice any of these, then you will know there are woolly aphid pests around.

c) Clusters of wool like substances on plants

If you notice white fluffy clusters on your plant’s branches, stems, then they are woolly aphids.

They are still when in group, so that they may get mistaken for something else.

In order to ensure, just hold a stick, tap on the sides of the branch or stem they are sited on.

If there is any movement in the group, your suspicion will get confirmed.

How to Eliminate Woolly Aphids on Trees?

Woolly Aphid may cause heavy damage to your garden plants if left uncontrolled.

Hence you should take instant action against them.

Here are some tips to help you get rid of them:

1- Blast aphids away

The very first thing you can try is to blast the aphids away with the help of a hose and water.

Once you have found the infested branches in your orchid, just connect the garden hose to a high flowing water source and spray from one plant to another.

Make sure you blast the top and underneath leaves.

Also, blast on the branches and stem to remove them from the plants.

Woolly Aphids usually nest in clusters, so you can easily find them.

Though they may lodge under the leaves and make it difficult for you to notice, if you do a thorough hosing, then all the clusters will blast away no matter they are visible or not.

The only problem with this method is, it is not a permanent remedy.

It is because the high flowing water just dislodges them but doesn’t kill them.

With time, they will climb again on the plants and start from where they left.

2- Cut down infected branches

Fortunately, woolly aphids don’t cover the whole plant in one go, they travel from one branch to another over time, as long as there is enough sap that can be sucked.

You should therefore go around your garden and analyze every plant to notice if there are any woolly aphid collection on the branches.

If there are any infested branches that are damaged by aphids severely, just prune these branches off and dispose them properly.

The perfect disposal method is to burn the infected branches as it kills the aphids that may be hanging on the branch, even after they have been cut off.

Collect all the branches chopped into a pile and take them to a location which is suitable for burning.

Before burning ensure that you have the right knowledge of the regulations about lighting fires in your state.

Make sure you stick to all the safety measures before burning the infected branches and also inform your neighbors about it.

Remember, you should only chop aphid infected branches if the damage caused by aphids isn’t repairable.

If the infected branches are not dead yet, you can use other methods to help you get rid of aphids!

3- Lower the soil nitrogen

If you keep your soil nutrients balanced, there are less chances of getting an aphid infestation in your garden.

Make sure you don’t use too much of nitrogen fertilizers as high nitrogen content in the soil can attract woolly aphids.

It is suggested to use natural organic fertilizers for better soil quality and effective growth of plants.

Some natural fertilizers comprise of decomposed manure, liquid seaweed, fish emulsion which enter the soil slowly.

This makes your garden soil get constant, natural balance and right levels of nitrogen.

4- Release natural predators

Another remedy to get rid of woolly aphids is to release some natural predators in your orchid.

They will not just eat the woolly aphids but their eggs too.

Plus, these natural predators can also control the growth of other insect pests in your garden.

Some of the predators which help in growing aphid activity are bees, butterflies, ladybugs, hoverflies, parasitic wasps, lacewings as well as praying mantis.

You can invite these predators to your yard by making your garden plants bloom appropriately.

You can also buy some of these if you want from the market.

Ladybugs for example are easily available commercially; you can just buy as many as you want and leave them in your garden.

5- Spray mild chemical solutions

Mild chemical solutions to control woolly aphids is another great way that can work.

Some of these solutions include:

a) Neem oil

Neem oil works as a natural weapon against aphids on your flowering plants and trees.

These oils are made from the seeds of the neem trees and can cause great damage to these insect pests.

Neem oil works by affecting the feeding and reproductive hormones of these pests and reduce their ability to grow, eat or reproduce.

You can purchase a neem oil insecticide and spray it on infected branches and stems.

The woolly aphids will be dead in just a few days when eating the saps of the neem covered plants.

A major benefit of using neem oil to get rid of woolly aphids is that it isn’t hazardous at all.

It is in fact secure to be used on garden plants, apple trees, olive trees, etc. Plus its also harmless to humans and pets.

b) Rubbing alcohol

You can also purchase solutions like rubbing alcohol and apply it to get rid of woolly aphids.

Put it on a clean cloth and rub it on the infected branches and stems to get rid of aphids.

Just be cautious while using them as it can also kill the advantageous predators of your garden.

c) Insecticidal soap spray

Insecticidal soap spray can be purchased from a retail store in your locality or you make one on your own.

To make it, you just need to mix mild liquid soap with white vinegar and water.

Stir it completely in a container and put it in a spray bottle.

Now check out the affected plants and spray on them.

You can spray it every 3 to 4 days till the woolly aphid population gets low.

Besides the above, few other mild chemicals that can be used to disinfect your yard of woolly aphids are Bifenthrin, pyrethrum, malathion, Permethrin, and imidacloprid.

The Conclusion

The ideal most way to keep woolly aphids at bay is to maintain your apple and olive trees in their prime condition. 

Make sure you use natural organic fertilizers to lower the occurrence of high nitrogen in the soil.

Also, chop down the branches as and when to control aphid population in your garden.

If required use chemicals or predators. Just relax and let the nature’s creatures deal with these pests.

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