What is Woolly Alder Aphid?
In case you have seen small-sized white fluffy cotton-like balls flying in the air and depositing on your maple trees do not think of it as an early sign of snowfall. These are Woolly Alder Aphids covering your maple trees in the upper south. They usually appear during the fall and are commonly sighted in the California, Texas, Southern Midwest and Southeast. It is also termed as the maple blight aphid because it produces a thick, snowy, wool-like secretion that is deposited on its primary host silver maple and sometimes on red maple.
Woolly Alder Aphid Life Cycle
The aphids on the trees are plump and dark and do not have any wings. They are covered under their own thick, snowy and waxy filaments. They hibernate on the bark of maple trees in the egg stage or on alder as a compact bunch of aphid colonies covered in wool. Freshly emerged aphids settle on the middle vein of the fresh maple leaves. They feed on the sap of maple trees during the period of bud-break till the end of June. Later on, adults with wings, and abdomens of some covered with snowy feathery wax are formed in the colonies. These airborne drifters willingly fly away if disturbed and look like tiny cotton balls moving through the air. After leaving the maple trees, they fly to alders where they developed fresh colonies on the secondary host. Both alder and maple trees are essential for woolly alder aphids to complete their life cycle.
Are Woolly Alder Aphids Harmful?
Woolly Alder Aphids do not cause any substantial harm to either alder or maple; however, they can be largely visible during the May and June due to the appearance of large snowy colonies of fluff on the stems and leaves. Some aphids infested leaves may wilt or fall permanently but they do not influence the overall health of the trees. Large colonies of aphids can create annoyance as they secrete a sticky honeydew. It promotes the growth of sooty mold and the clear goop can fall over sidewalks, garden ornaments, or anything under them. So you will be required to wash off things under the trees on a regular basis.
In comparison to the little to no harm, and a minor hassle of increase need of cleaning, woolly alder aphids are actually beneficial for your garden. They are a significant resource for natural organic regulations. Forbearance of the presence of aphids in your garden attracts beneficial insects that offer protection against parasitic wasps, hoverflies, lady beetles, and lacewings. Flying adult woolly aphids are fascinating. They are bewildering but do not cause any damage. If your maple trees are infested with aphids, control is not necessary because once the feeding and honeydew production on the maple trees have been accomplished, the adults migrate. So you can just relax and appreciate this natural wonder.
What is Woolly Alder Aphid?