Thursday, August 21, 2014

Wooly Aphids Mistaken for Snowflakes in the Garden

It looks as if snow is swirling in the air outside. I thought it was mealybug adults swarming, maybe.

Wooly aphids caught in a spider's web.

When I commenced to google, I found this fantastic look at the things:

Fuzzy White Flying Bugs

The above photographer saw these things in a different perspective than I could.
He saw fairies; I saw little devils with the possibility of plant destruction.

Wooly aphid on a Camellia leaf

Specific questions brought more answers:
Woolly aphids feed by inserting needle-like mouthparts into plant tissue and withdrawing sap. They feed on leaves, buds, twigs, and bark, but can also feed on the roots.
Symptoms of feeding include twisted and curled leaves, yellowed foliage, poor plant growth, low plant vigor, and branch dieback. Physical injury may result when large numbers of woolly aphids attack young trees or unhealthy, stressed trees.
Fortunately, severe woolly aphid infestations only occur periodically and are generally kept in check by natural enemies. In addition to the physical damage to the plant, accumulations of wax and shed skins are sometimes very conspicuous signs on the leaves, twigs, and bark.
Then I confirmed that wooly aphids that attack Camellias:

American camellia Society

Or maybe Crape Myrtle Wooly Aphids? I went outside and surveyed pears, crape myrtles, camellias and everything else to see where they're coming from. Crape Myrtles and Pears seemed not to be affected. They seem to be thickest where Camellias are. Then I noticed the boxwood under the Camellias.

Boxwood Psyllids

Good Grief! They're on Wisteria. Last year Kudzu bugs attacked Wisteria. This year it's wooly aphids.

We need more spiders!

I take little comfort from this, but maybe the beneficials will catch up:
Woolly aphids are an important resource for natural biological controls such as lacewings, lady beetles, hover flies, and parasitic wasps. Tolerance of aphid presence is one way to encourage beneficial insects.
Flying adults are a wonderment. They are intriguing, not harmful. When adults are migrating the feeding and honeydew production on the maples has been accomplished and no control is needed. Relax and enjoy the fascination of Nature.
Tolerance of aphid presence is one way to encourage beneficial insects.
I feel better for visiting U Fla web site:
Aphids are attacked by a very large number of predators, parasites and pathogens. Some of the common predators include several species of lady beetleslacewing larvae and syrphid fly larvae.
Many small hymenoptera parasites infest aphids, most being species specific. Parasitized aphids are easy to detect, their bodies turn a tan or cream color, become hard and shiny and are commonly referred to as mummies. When the parasitic wasp emerges from the aphid, it leaves a small round hole in the body.

 I'll give beneficials a chance and if the bad bugs hang around I'll give them a soapy shower. Perhaps a better control would be to use oil spray next spring before eggs hatch.

Have you seen the air full of white fuzzy critters?


  1. I'm pretty sure these are the type of aphids I've had in the greenhouse all over my pepper plants. I introduced ladybugs which helped for a while, till all the ladybugs figured out how to get out. They came back, but not quite so badly as the first time, and I couldn't find ladybugs at the nursery any more. They didn't seem to interfere with the pepper production, and I gave all the peppers I've brought in a very good soaking wash and scrub.

  2. It seems there's an aphid for almost every plant and they move from one to another. According to what I read at Colorado State, your pepper aphids may be Green Peach Aphids. They're all nasty little critters as far as I'm concerned.

  3. Good grief, seems there is always some nasty insect pest to deal with

  4. You know near my camellia is a spider and it has white things in it web...I'm think they are dandelion seeds but I will look closer now.

  5. Oh yes, I have had infestations of these charming critters before.

    I did spray my snowball bush with dormant oil spray and it helped with the aphids (not white ones) that attacked it each spring and caused the foliage to curl and die, which also meant damage to the blooms.


I look forward to comments and questions and lively discussion of gardening and related ideas.

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