HOME, YARD & GARDEN
and gardeners are noticing a sticky material raining out of certain shade
trees, predominately tulip poplar (also known locally as yellow poplar or
tuliptree). This is caused by a soft-bodied scale insect called the Tulip
Poplar Scale. Mature scales grow as large as 6-7 mm in diameter. They are
covered by an oval, convex, waxy cover that varies from light grayish green to
pinkish orange mottled with black.
Scale feed by
sucking the sap out of the twigs and stems of the tree. Soft scale will
secrete excess (waste) sap in the form of “honeydew,” a sticky, sugar-rich
material. The honeydew will coat the leaves and trunks of the tree, plus
anything underneath it (including cars, patio furniture, and decks). Ants
and wasps are often attracted to the honeydew. A black, sooty mold will
sometimes grow on the honeydew, covering the foliage and objects on the ground.
of scale can weaken the tree, and make it more susceptible to other problems,
including drought and borers.
The best recommendation
to protect your cars and picnic table is to move them away from the tulip
tree. Minor to moderate infestations won’t hurt the tree, especially if
you keep the entire yard watered throughout the summer.
infestations, insecticides will be required. The easiest way to control this
pest is with a soil drench of imidacloprid (Bayer Tree and Shrub Insect
Control). This should ideally be applied in the spring, but treatment now
will still be of some benefit. Various other insecticides can be sprayed
onto the young crawler stage starting in mid-August, but it is practically
impossible for homeowners to reach the tops of tall trees. Dormant oil
can also be used, but again, it’s nearly impossible to get coverage into a
these white fuzzy insects can be found here: