Insect(s) killing my cherry tree

jetcity5150July 26, 2011

I have a 4 year old cherry tree for the first time this year had some blossoms. The tree looked great then all of the sudden at the ends of the branches the leaves looked like they had black sticky stuff and started to curl. We started to notice a bug that looked like a lady bug with a turtle looking shell on it. It would attach to the leaves and then raise their back end strange. There is another bug there as well (I am attempting to add image). Needless to say all the cherries are gone and the leaves at the ends of the branches are black and curled. They are not touching my raised garden bed directly below the tree or the other surrounding climbing plants. I have tried non toxic sprays and nothing seems to get rid of them. Ive never seen this type of bug before around here. I have been in the pacific northwest for 11 years. Please let me know if you know of this and how to get rid of it. Thank you

Image link:

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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Let's make a stop spraying stuff unless you know what you're trying to kill, and we'll do everything we can to help ID anything you may find. OK?

Your image illustrates a ladybug larvae AND a ladybug pupae. All you need in that picture is the adult and some eggs, and you'll have the complete life cycle. The eggs hatch and the little alligator looking larvae emerge. They are also voracious feeders of aphids and other small insects. Once the larvae reaches a certain stage of development, it goes into a pupal stage where the larvae quietly turns into the adult ladybug. The insect will shed that pupal shell and the adult will emerge, all clean and shiny...something that you finally recognize.

SO! Don't keep trying to get rid of these, okay?

Here is a link that might be useful: Click here to compare

    Bookmark   July 26, 2011 at 12:40PM
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dan_staley(5b/SS 2b AHS 6-7)

More useful now would be a picture of the damage, now that we know not to spray stuff willy-nilly without knowing what we're spraying...


    Bookmark   July 26, 2011 at 1:46PM
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tsugajunkie z5 SE WI

"...the leaves looked like they had black sticky stuff and started to curl..."

Chances are the honeydew from aphids caused a black mold. Having aphids resulted in an increase of the ladybeetles to attack the aphid population. Don't kill the calvary as it comes over the hill. ;-)


    Bookmark   July 26, 2011 at 7:08PM
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Well, the spray we were told to use didnt do anything anyway. Its supposed to be more of a mold and black spot preventative than an insecticide. If these are ladybugs in the making why do they eat holes in the leaves? They attach, lift up in the back so they are standing straight out and you can barely even pick them off if you try. And if that is a black mold how do you get rid of that. Like I said all the cherries that started are gone. By the way thanks all for the suggestions and I agree not to spray. We do not like to do that anyway. I will get some pictures of the leaves that are damaged.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2011 at 9:58AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

The ladybugs didn't cause the holes in the leaves. Something else did.

Trust me, there is no "IF" about the ladybugs. Did you click on the link I attached for you in my earlier post? You'll see plenty of pictures of larval and pupal ladybugs.

When the little larvae enter into their pupal stage, they affix themselves to the leaf so that they don't fall off. The pupal stage is a quiescent one. The pupa is busy churning out an adult ladybug inside that 'shell' and can't hang on by itself. Pupas don't feed on anything during this part of the life cyle. All they do is sit there and hope that some big, bad human doesn't come along and mess with them too much. ;-)

Let's see some pictures of the black stuff and we can probably help you with that.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2011 at 12:27PM
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This spring has been rough on cherries overall in the Pacific NW (the long wet spring was loved by a lot of fungus diseses). If your's are similar to those in the Portland area, I would say probably you are dealing with Brownrot(Monilinia fruticola) causing the death of branch tips (will also get into the plant where flowers were)and the holes in the leaves are Shothole(Coryneum Blight). In landscapes and on the street, this problem can be seen a lot...some cherry types/cultivars are more prone than others.


    Bookmark   July 27, 2011 at 2:34PM
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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

OP said "Well, the spray we were told to use didnt do anything anyway. Its supposed to be more of a mold and black spot preventative than an insecticide. "

Oh my, you need to locate a resource who can provide accurate information. Perhaps your county's Extension Service office. Find your county's office with this map:

Okay, back to your curled leaves and black mold. Please stay with me; take time to thoroughly digest each step to learn what occurred.

It goes like this:
1. The diagnosis for your cherry tree is most likely aphids on the undersides of the cherry leaves. Those aphids were drinking plant sap and excreting the excess that they didn't need.

  1. That excess excreted sap is called honeydew. It's clear and it's sticky.

3. Then, a mold that's ever-present in the air, landed on the sticky stuff, fed on it, then produced the sooty mold (the black stuff) on the leaves. No way was that stuff black spot!

Ladybugs, both adults and youngsters feed on aphids.
The thing stuck on the leaf was a pupa as was already explained.
Please don't try to scrape them loose as you may damage them and end up with a deformed ladybug rather than a healthy one.

So, in the future, when you see similar curled leaves, please unroll them and look at what's inside the curls. Aphids, Lots and lots. Often very small.

The best & safest remedy: Keep alert for curled leaves, then wash off the aphids.

Insecticide sprays likely won't work because they are well protected within the curled leaves.

Oh yes, as was said, the ladybugs don't make holes in leaves.

Here is a link that might be useful: USDA map to locate Extension Service offices

    Bookmark   July 27, 2011 at 10:42PM
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Tried to add a picture of the black leaves but couldnt get any kind of a button to add another pic since i did it the first time. You all are awesome and thank you so much for the advice I now have leads to follow. And first posters dont worry no more spraying. Funny tho....the hubby and I are both gardners and have NEVER ever looked into a ladybugs lifestages...never ever saw them in our gardens or plants. We are on two acres and we must just totally have been oblivious. Thanks all again, you are all knowlegeable and so very helpful

    Bookmark   July 27, 2011 at 11:03PM
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