white stuff all over many plants

anitamo(5)May 15, 2006

This is so weird. I went out to check on the garden, after almost a straight week of rain, and found some sort of white substance all over my plants. I have a large bed with a variety of plants, and there is this stuff on all of them. Because of the shear magnitude of this, I don't really think it can be a disease or bug, at least I hope not. It's on the peonies, the hosta, the catmint, the heliopsis, etc...It is not just in the leaf axils, and not just on the leaves, but sort of scattered. As if someone took a bowl of something and just blew it all over. It's sort of haphazardly blown around. Kind of cottony, but all different sizes. Like I mentioned earlier, it has been raining a lot, and the trees have all been dropping their litter everywhere. There are mainly oaks, maples, and redbuds in this general area. I took a picture, but could not get a clear shot. But it does show the general placement of these specks. (it's the white stuff on leaves.) I would be so appreciative of any ideas on what it might be, or what to do now? Thank you for reading this long post.

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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

I'd be hesitant to quess without seeing a better image. And do these things (or this stuff) move.....have you investigated to see if there is a living critter inside all of the fluff?

There are plenty of insects around that fit that description, but.....let's see a better photograph.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2006 at 8:20AM
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No, nothing moves, and if I lightly touch it or blow on it, it easily falls off. I will try for another pic. Thanks for replying. But I know it's not spittlebugs. That's what I thought of at first. If it is an insect, could it be possible that's it's on that many plants?

    Bookmark   May 16, 2006 at 9:24AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

I'm thinking in terms of woolly aphids, but there are other insects that resemble this. But the woolly aphids have a teensy critter inside all of that fuzz.

An improved picture might help, for sure.

Do you have cottonwoods there? (Though it would be early for THAT to be happening, I think.)

    Bookmark   May 16, 2006 at 2:02PM
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I can't get a hold of one of my kid's cameras (once again, mom goes without, LOL.) But I was inspecting the white stuff a little closer today, and did not see any insect inside the fluff. I rubbed it and it just disintegrated with no bug anywhere. What baffles me the most is that this stuff is on all the plants in this bed. I'm talking over 100 plants. It looks like it was dumped from an airplane. Weird. I googled pics of wolley aphids, and while my stuff resembles it, it's still not exact. Thanks for bearing with me on this mystery rhizo.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2006 at 11:37PM
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botanybob(Northern Idaho)

It sounds like you have done a good inspection to rule out insects. If you squish one and it does not have a liquid center, then it must be something else. There doesn't seem to be any discoloration around the spots, so I would rule out a fungal infection also.

Do the plants seem to be suffereing in any way from the presence of this stuff? I'm starting to think it must be something that just blew in from somewhere.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2006 at 7:59PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

I SWEAR that something like this came up last year! Naturally, I do not recall what was ever decided, lol. I sure would like to see a really good picture, sigh.

Probably a case of the dreaded dryer fuzz, gone amok.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2006 at 8:24AM
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ticksmom419(z7 NC)

It sure did come up last year and I was one of the ones who had it! It was on my hydrangeas. It was like this fluffy snow. Did not cling to the leaves, but looked almost like it got blown into crevices. I could blow it right off. It was not alive and did not look like any fungus I've seen. Some others had the same stuff. My plants were never hurt by it and eventually it disappeared. Probably blew away! I don't think anyone else who talked about saw damage, either. I don't think I'd worry about it, but it makes for a good mystery. Here's a shot of mine. Ignore the icky-looking leaf. That was some other problem. Sigh.


    Bookmark   May 19, 2006 at 10:44AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

I want some under my microscope NOW! lol!

    Bookmark   May 19, 2006 at 11:42AM
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Karen, yes...that's it! No one figured it out last year? Man, this is so weird. I've hosed down most of the plants with a strong stream of water, and that seems to have worked. It doesn't seem to have hurt the plants, but it did look messy.
rhizo, a microscope inspection does seem to be in order. LOL.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2006 at 2:14AM
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I have that stuff too. The lady at the nursery said that it was part of the aphid's life cycle, it's shedded skin or something like that.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2006 at 8:48PM
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eureka(SS11 LasVegas/Henderson)

Hi All:
This sounded kind of interesting so I thought I would get out my Sunset Problem Solver book to see if anything was shown that resembled this white fluff. The only thing that I found that had any resemblance to Karen's picture, is a picture in my book that is labeled "Psyllids". "The adult is very much like a leaf hopper but the smaller, wingless nymph's are nearly immobile and often have a white, waxy coating" quoting the book. In theory, they suck plant juices, leave sooty mold behind. The lady at the nursery is wrong about this particular fluff. I know what she is referring to and it's not like Karen's picture. If this stuff is just going away on it's own or easily washed off, it's hard to believe it could be psyllids but the picture and the fluff look the same. At allexperts.com a gal who follows organic practices said that she uses baking soda and water to spray her plants and claims she hasn't had bugs or diseases for 4 years. I thought that was amazing so I bought a big box of soda to try. Any chance of getting some scrapings and taking them to the high school or jr. college near by? The instructors in the Biology dept. are usually quite happy to help. When I worked at our jr. college, a man came in, looking kinda shaggy and asked to speak to a Biology teacher or someone who would know about bugs. I called over to Biology and the Chair answered. I told her what this guy wanted and she walked over. She extended her hand, introduced herself, asked what she could help with. He said he needed information on bugs. She asked what kind of bugs, and his reply was "the ones living on me." We all took a step back from the guy and the instructor told him that he'd have to see a doctor. He was a happy guy, said "thanks" and left. The rest of us had the hebbee geebees the rest of the day plus a really good laugh.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2006 at 9:42PM
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