Central Texas Tree & Shrub Insects
These chewers and suckers are numerous and destructive!
From San Antonio to Waco, and from Liberty Hill– Leander to Hutto, we have more aphids, spider mites, whiteflies, lace bugs, and scale insects than you could shake a stick at.
Some insects such as aphids, whiteflies, and scale insects eat by sucking plant sap. When they do this, it forms honeydew which is the root cause of Sooty Mold.
- Aphids use their piercing sucking mouthparts to feed on plant sap.
- They usually occur in colonies on the undersides of tender terminal growth.
- May cause leaves to pucker or to become severely distorted, even if only a few aphids are present.
- Aphids produce large amounts of sugary liquid waste called “honeydew”.
- Infestations generally result from small numbers of winged aphids that fly to the plant.
- They mature in 7 to 10 days and then are ready to produce live young.
- Each can produce 40 to 60 offspring.
- Less than a dozen aphid “colonizers” can produce hundreds to thousands of aphids on a plant in a few weeks.
- Primarily live on the underside of the plant’s leaves and spin silk webs.
- Mites are tiny, about the size of the period at the end of this sentence.
- Populations can increase rapidly and cause extensive plant damage in a very short time.
- Spider mites have needle-like mouthparts and feed by piercing the leaves of host plants and sucking out the fluids from individual plant cells.
- Prolonged, heavy infestations cause yellowing or bronzing of the foliage and premature leaf drop like drought stress.
- Spider mites are one of the more difficult groups of landscape pests to control. Infestations are easiest to control when detected early.
- Tent caterpillars attack several species of broadleaf, fruit trees and ornamental shrubs.
- When their populations become large, the caterpillars can defoliate trees, stunting their growth.
- In all Texas species they produce, a sticky, frothy substance, to “glue” the eggs to bark or twigs.
- Whiteflies, like aphids, have piercing sucking mouthparts to feed on plant sap
- They usually occur in colonies on the underside of plant leaves
- Whiteflies produce large amounts of sugary liquid waste called “honeydew” which leads to Sooty Mold
- The saliva they inject may harm the plant more than either the damage caused by chewing or the growth of fungi
- As whitefly infestations become severe, they cause plants to yellow and lose their leaves prematurely
- Even worse, whiteflies are vectors that transmit over a hundred different plant viruses
- The transmission of diseases into the plant can be very damaging
- Lacebugs use their sucking mouthparts to feed on plant sap.
- Most lacebugs spend the winter as eggs that hatch in early spring
- Damage ranges from many small white spots on the leaves to distortion or destruction of plant tissue
- It feeds first on the upper, tender foliage leaving distinct red-brown spots
- Feeding by large numbers of plant bugs can produce large brown blotches and/or leaf distortion
- Thorough treatment of the underside of the leaves is needed for best results
- The most common in our area are “Brown Soft Scale” and “Wax Leaf Scale”.
- This scale insect feeds on a wide variety of ornamental foliage and flowering plants.
- The adult female scales are usually brownish, oval to round and about 1/4 inch in diameter
- Heavily infested plants become unsightly and often lose their leaves
- Wax & Brown Soft scales injure plants by removing large quantities of plant sap
- They produce large amounts of a sugary liquid waste called “honeydew” that manifest a fungus called Sooty Mold
- Scale insects have recently become a widespread problem on landscape plants throughout Central Texas