Aphid infestations more likely this year in Truckee Meadows

RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - On this neighborhood street, there are plenty of healthy ash trees. One tree in particular looks pretty normal. That is until you get up close and see the leaves have turned on themselves.

Lee Lawrence of Zeebest pulls down one of those leaves.

“Here, let me help you out,” he says. “Unfortunately with the stipple of the leaf, causing it to curl up, it actually conceals the aphid inside,” says Lawrence.

That is a sign of aphid infestation.

“They are pretty small and they are the color of wool,” says Lawrence.

Lawrence says aphids are in over-abundance this year in the Truckee Meadows. The wet winter, then warm winter and wet spring have been an ideal situation for them.

There's no way to tell which ash trees will suffer more than others. But when it gets to the turned-leaves stage, topical treatments aren't going to do much good.

“With soap solutions, let's say organic products, timing is absolutely essential. You would have to be able to spray the aphid right as the buds are forming, because once the leaves come out, they attack the leaves; the leaves stipple and curl. It is going to lock those aphids inside and soapy products. Even insecticide products are going to have a hard time getting into that leaf,” says Lawrence.

“So I would tell the homeowner to show patience. Wait until the fall, and then contact a company to do a systemic application on the base of the tree to protect it,” he says.

Healthier ash trees with good watering, aeration, and nutrients are able to better withstand aphids.

Lawrence says moth caterpillars are also very prevalent this year. They tend to leave a light webbing and sometimes you can find them and the aphids in the same place.

Lawrence says besides aphids and caterpillars, we will be seeing a lot more ants this summer--all species. The best way to take care of them, he says, is with a bait-based product to kill the queen.