Aphids are insects that enjoy sucking juice from plants, and then leave a gooey "honeydew" mess behind.

Courtesy photo
CNHI News Service

If Texans didn’t have enough to worry about with reoccurring fires and now the West Nile Virus outbreak, they find themselves battling a suspicious icky, sticky, gooey mess.

The culprit is an insect called an aphid, and this year they are out en masse. There are hundreds of species and they measure about 1-3 millimeters in length. The insects feed by using their mouths to pierce a leaf, sucking out the juices.

“We have a lot each year but perhaps more this year due to the rains which have kept green on many plants,” said Richard Parrish, Hays County Extension agent. “So their food source is abundant.”

If there’s any good news, the residue isn’t harmful to humans. The bad news is that it can damage patio furniture and a car’s finish, if not cleaned up quickly.

The quick action by the insects can also lead to defoliation of plants. Because aphids are usually on the bottom of leaves, their secretion called ‘honeydew’ falls to anything below the leaf like cars and other outdoor things,” Parrish said.

In a few months, the colder weather will decrease the aphid population until late next spring when they will once again appear.

Biologically, lady bugs eat aphids, and if that doesn’t do the job homeowners can also use a high pressure water spray to clean their patios or cars.


Details for this story were provided by The San Marcos (Texas) Daily Record.