Crepe Myrtle Aphid
Crepe myrtle aphid is an important pest of crepe myrtles throughout their range. Aphids use their piercing sucking mouthparts to extract sap from the tender, new growth of plants. Aphid feeding creates distorted/chlorotic leaves, and copious amounts of honey dew in which sooty mold grows on. Honey dew and sooty mold can coat; leaves, stems, and anything else growing underneath affected plants.
Signs of Damage
- Aphid feeding causes curled discolored (chlorotic) leaves.
- Feeding aphids excrete honeydew making the plant sticky.
- A black fungus called sooty mold may be growing on the honeydew.
- Monophagous, only found on crepe myrtle.
- Aphids are slow moving, oval to pear-shaped insects ranging in size from 1/16 to 1/8 inch long.
- Pipe-like protrusions extending off the back of the insect are visible with a hand lens.
- Winged adults have dark-tipped antennae and two double-pronged humps on the back.
- Crepe myrtle aphids nymphs resemble wingless adults, but are smaller and have black spikes on their abdomen.
- Overwinter as eggs on hosts bark.
- In spring the eggs hatch and aphids migrate into summer hosts.
- In late summer eggs are laid again.
- Several generations per year.
Early detection is the key in reducing infestations of aphid. Examine areas near the buds and on the undersides of the new leaves for aphids. When natural enemies, like the lady beetle, are not sufficient in keeping the population in check, insecticides are very effective for controlling aphids. Contact insecticides can be used on exposed aphids. Soil applied systemic insecticides are also very effective and can be applied once in the fall or spring to deliver control throughout the growing season.