Recovering from a Black Cherry Aphid infestation.

capoman(5a)July 24, 2012

I have a Bing Cherry that got devastated by Black Cherry Aphids. They were very difficult to get rid of. It was a constant battle using insecticidal soap and neem. Most insecticides are banned in Ontario. After several weeks I finally rid myself of the aphids and ants that caused the problem.

Issue is, the tree has no viable leaves left, and doesn't appear to be growing any more. Leaves have all turned yellow, and it looks the way it normally would if it was fall and going dormant. The branches still appear healthy and full with good color, but there doesn't appear to be any more releafing happening after the battle.

A couple of questions. Should I remove all the damaged leaves, and what can I expect from the tree for the rest of the year? Will it recover next spring? I'll try to post some pics later.

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Some minor pruning will release some hormones that will encourage new growth. I had an issue with ant farmed aphids on my black gold cherry tree. It never did do great for that year, but the follwing year it took off pretty well. I also put ant killer around the base of the tree now as well and havent noticed a problem this year.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2012 at 5:53PM
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I'll give that a shot, thanks, although with the insectide ban, my options for ant killer are limited. Do you know of any organic ant killers that actually work?

    Bookmark   July 25, 2012 at 8:31AM
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Very interesting since I have the same problem with some Regina on Gisela 5. Growth was great in early spring (6"-18") then black cherry aphids were farmed by carpenter ants. After spraying Spectracide Triazicide it got rid of the black cherry aphids. I put a small band of diatomaceous earth around the base of the trees to stop the ants. I actually had to spray the Trizicide another 14 day after the initial spray because the aphids came back.

It has now been close to a month with no pest pressure but very little growth and some leaves are still curled. I'm pruning to the Zahn Vertical Axis system so I can't do much pruning since the trees are in their second leaf.

I applied my last application of fertilizer for the year a couple days ago and expect to get at least another 6 inches before winter.

We will see what happens.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2012 at 12:55PM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

This year it is too late, there is nothing to do.

Next year make a 3-5" barrier of tanglefoot on the trunk all the way around. This will make it impossible for the ants to get to the aphids and move them around. You will go from a huge problem to nothing overnight. Renew tanglefoot every spring. Monitor to make sure ants have no way at all to get on your tree. I found my ants were using adjacent apple to get aboard so I needed to prune off that bridge.


    Bookmark   July 25, 2012 at 7:16PM
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With governmental pro-insect limitations, you may want to try hopefully-legal paper masking tape wrapped around a smooth area of the trunk with the sticky side facing outward. One inch wide is OK, and the tape can be replaced when it is full of bugs or when it loses it's stickiness. I have been spraying masses of sucking aphids directly with a qt. spray bottle filled with 27 OZ of water and 5 OZ of Zep brand "heavy-duty citrus degreaser" sold in 1 gallon jugs at some home improvement stores for $12 or so. After the aphids are drenched and promptly soak up the stuff, they are non-responsive. After about 10 minutes, I use the garden hose to rinse the citrus mix and non-responsive bugs off the tender vegetation. Drenched ants, roaches, etc. will also have a similar result after a few minutes max. And they all smell very nice. I do use more than 5 OZ per quart when a quicker result is needed. When the citrus becomes off-limits, let us know and we may have some other ideas. Freedoms are a wonderful thing for responsible folk.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2012 at 11:52PM
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I plan to use tanglefoot next year to see if I can avoid a recurrence. I suspect our weird whether this year triggered the infection with these aphids that I've never seen before.

The Zep orange cleaner is something I already have on hand. Never thought about using it as an insecticide, LOL. I know that insecticidal soap and neem were not not very effective against either ants or aphids and took several weeks to work, if they worked at all. I wonder if the tree shutting down and going dormant was a deliberate response of the tree to cut off the source of food for the aphids? It almost seemed like the loss of aphids and apparent dormancy of the tree happened almost simultaneously.

Do others agree that there is nothing to do this year? Is it harmful for the tree to be dormant in hot weather, and should I do anything to protect the tree from other pathogens such as fungi or bacteria before fall?

    Bookmark   July 26, 2012 at 8:42AM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Capoman, cherry trees come from areas with a short summer. They are OK going dormant early. I had the same thing happen several years ago, before I figured out the tanglefoot trick. The trees came back fine the next spring.


    Bookmark   July 26, 2012 at 9:20AM
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Thanks Scott, that's good to know as I've never seen any of the cherries go dormant before fall before.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2012 at 1:50PM
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Come to think of it, we had an exceptionally warm winter and spring, which killed all the buds after a frost. This may have shifted the entire season for the tree ahead a couple of months.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2012 at 1:53PM
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