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small black insect rapidly defoliating trees

Posted by SaphRose z5 NY (My Page) on
Sun, Jun 12, 05 at 0:14

A friend of mine purchased a number of trees this year from our local water authority (ashes, dogwoods, poplars, etc.) She noticed recently that all the trees they purchased are being quickly defoliated by very small black insect. They look like beetle larvae to me (not unlike ladybug larvae in appearance except for their size and coloration) and are small and totally black. They skeletonize the leaves leaving nothing but the fine veins behind and are rapidly destroying all the leaves on the small trees (the trees are a foot tall to slightly taller). The trees are planted in a shady area by a creek in their backyard. No other trees (all trees around them are mature trees) appear to be affected.

All attempts to reach the nursery that supplied the trees have been unsuccessful, and my friend suspects that the trees may not survive much past this weekend if they can't find a way to bring the infestation under control. Does anyone have any ideas as to what pest might be attacking the trees and how to control them? For that matter, has anyone else experienced a similar infestation (enough trees were sold by the water authority from a nursery in Rochester, NY that we can't help wondering if others have had the same problem). Handpicking appears to be ineffective because there are so many of them (the leaves and stems are completely covered & others quickly take the place of those removed).

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: small black insect rapidly defoliating trees

did you try calling your local Cooperative Extension Office?

RE: small black insect rapidly defoliating trees

I watched my viburnum get defoliated from the bottom up.
My coop ext said: Viburnum Leag Beetle.
Do contact them for info re. pest management--they sent me some good fliers.

RE: small black insect

I have two ficus figs ( the small variety) that have new foliage being taken over by a small black insect the pest has a long body smaller than a match head in length. The new leaves are housing several of the pests & they curl the leaf to almost closed there in no web , the leaf is turning brown but not dead any clues ? Please,

Here is a link that might be useful: Gardenweb

RE: small black insect rapidly defoliating trees

Noelene, I'm guessing the problem with your ficus is aphids. Do they look something like the ones shown here?

If so, just set the plant in your bathtub, then mix a bit of ordinary dish-soap w/ water in a spray bottle and spray them off. You can also spray them off with just a stream of plain water. Ficus are sensitive, so make sure the water you use is tepid (slightly warmer than room temp). RInse w/ clear water when you're done. Check the plants each day and repeat the process if you see any aphids return.

Alternatively, you can just squish the aphids with your fingers, but that's sort of yukky. lol!

If it's not aphids, can you post a photo?

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