Burning bush infestation - please help!

lanakolo(Z5 ONTARIO)May 25, 2005

I have a beautiful burning bush in my back yard and just noticed a couple of days ago that it looks sad and that the leaves are curling under. At a closer look I noticed that it is full of little black bugs. These tiny black things are along the stems and on the leaves. They are soft and almost looks like dirt. I took a picture of it  please check it out.

What are these, and more important: how to get rid of them? Please help me save the poor plant. Thank you!


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magus(8a BC)

They are aphids. One of the few insects I hate with a passion. They come in different colours, from green to red to black. They suck nutrients from the plant's stem, mostly from the youngest growth, so you'll find them mostly around buds.

The simplest and most environmentally safe way I've found to get rid of them is to just use a spray bottle filled with plain water, twist the nozzle to the narrowest stream, and just blow them off. It's a little tedious, and you will have to do it every day for a few days. There will be fewer and fewer of them, and often they either disappear completely, or only come back in smaller numbers. They can still come from other plants too, so there's never any guarantee that it will eliminate them for good.

Another is to use a mild soap diluted in water (not sure what kind of soap is best, but nothing nasty - it's a common remedy, so you can search for it on the net) and spray all the parts that are infested with it, then an hour or two later, wash it all off with plain water (very important, or you can suffocate your plant too). The idea is to suffocate them with it, so you need to cover them completely with the stuff. This will get rid of them faster than the previous method, but you will probably have to repeat it every day for two or three days.

The easiest (but most pricey) way is to buy insecticidal soap - most environmentally friendly best, and do the same thing as above. There are other chemicals that will kill them just the same, and probably faster, but they are nasty and a bit of overkill, not to mention that you are introducing nasty chemicals into your garden.

You can also use ladybugs, if you can find a supplier of them nearby. Aphids are their favourite food, but when their food supply is eaten up, they go to where there is more, which is probably not your garden.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2005 at 12:40PM
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magus(8a BC)

By the way, aphids often don't do too much damage (relatively speaking) except on fresh growth, so if the whole plant is looking sad, I would check to make sure that there isn't another reason before I would blame the aphids for it all.

Also, there is a related post called "Help! White bugs on lupins" on this same forum that's related.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2005 at 12:47PM
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lanakolo(Z5 ONTARIO)

Thanks Magus, I'll go for the soapy water and see how it works. The strange thing is that this is the only plant affected. Should I expect them move to the other?
I actually saw a couple of ladybugs on the affected bush, but they didn't seam interested in the aphids.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2005 at 2:14PM
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bonniepunch(USDAz4 AgCanz5a)

Ladybugs will eat a few aphids, but their larvae will chow down on them by the hundreds. Since the ladybugs in your photo are mating, you should find the babies around soon. They look like funny little black alligators with a red or yellow patch in the middle. If you see any, don't spray or squish 'em!


    Bookmark   May 25, 2005 at 3:01PM
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Do encourage those little lady bugs to do their thing and get more LB to live in your surroundings. I use just a strong spray of water from the hose to dislodge the aphids on my plants. Check every day as you might have to do it a few times in the course of a couple of weeks. By then, the Baby Lady Bugs will be feasting on the aphids and your problem will have been taken care of!

    Bookmark   May 25, 2005 at 7:07PM
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magus(8a BC)

Well, of course they're not interested in aphids. They're a little busy at the moment. :)

As for the aphids themselves, I remember someone saying sometime ago that aphids are somewhat plant-specific. Ones that go for mint-family plants will only go for mint-family plants, rose ones will go only for roses, etc. I have my doubts on how true this is, really, since I've seen the green ones just about everywhere, but some do seem rather specific and leave everything else alone. I find that roses tend to be attacked by a red variety, daisies and mints by green ones, etc. Also, I'm guessing that some plants have a certain amount of toxicity for self-defence.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2005 at 2:17PM
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Hi all,

Does anyone have a latin name for this Burning Bush....it looks nothing like the burning bush (shrub) that I have. Are there 2 plants called burning bush?


    Bookmark   May 28, 2005 at 6:55PM
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Oh and that is one motion conserving way for ladybugs to get to the aphids....carry each other piggyback? LOL


    Bookmark   May 28, 2005 at 7:19PM
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alexg(z5b ONT)

I love the ladybug pic - priceless reply Magus :)


Don't dislodge those ladybugs with water or soapy water and soon your problem will be solved.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2005 at 1:10AM
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jason0360(5A Ottawa)

Hi - this is obviously a really old post... but I found it in a search as I have the same problem. Yesterday, I attacked them all with insecticidal soap and today I tried to spray all of them off (it seems as if they are dead) with a garden hose.

My question is about the curled up leaves at the tips of the new growth (as in the picture). Do they recover or should I snip off all those ends? They really do not look very good!


    Bookmark   May 30, 2007 at 5:14PM
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Just give them a bit of a trim Jason and all will be fine.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2007 at 9:08PM
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garnet69(6A S.Ont)

I have the same problem - but severe. Mine started on my Snowball Viburnum (a very suspectible species) and this year its really bad even though I sprayed Dormant Oil in the spring. My infestation is so bad, I'm considering getting rid of the shrub, the green shoots are almost black from the infestation. About a month ago I started blasting them with water but they came back, they always come back. So I started with insecticidal soap (with little effect). They've spread to the Astilbe growing under the Viburnum and a Clematis about four feet away. To add to my misery, they are infesting my Cherry trees. The new young shoots are all curled with aphids and starting to go brown. Tomorrow I will cut away ALL infested areas that I can reach and spray the rest with a blast of water (again) followed by insecticidal soap (again) and hope and pray that works. I can't rely on the lady bugs at this point because there are just too many aphids. As a last resort, I've got some Trounce. The aphids got to my honeysuckle too and the soap worked but now it's totally deformed. Have to clip that one way back too. My advice is to cut away anything infested (put it in the trash in sealed plastic bags). Good luck, these little buggers are pretty resilient.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2007 at 9:28PM
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