Aphids are soft-bodied, sucking insects and they have a well-known association with tulip trees (Liriodendron tulipifera). As they suck on the leaves they exude sticky honeydew because they can’t process sugars. The trees aren’t harmed and beneficial insects arrive to feast on the sugars and on the aphids. That’s the basic biology.
One desperate owner
Every summer the same desperate patio owner approaches me asking if I could take out more branches off the tulip trees. And it turns out I can’t. I would need a bucket truck.
Whenever there is a clash between people and trees, I normally favour the trees because we need them. Trees provide many, many, free ecosystem services; and lately tree planting is suggested as one way to fight climate change.
And yet, I really feel for this lady. Imagine her sitting out on her back patio, drinking wine with her husband as her little kids play at their feet. Then she looks up and sees aphid honeydew falling down all over her yard. That’s messed up. Aphids from hell!
Since the boulevard trees technically belong to the City of Maple Ridge, they are protected and very unlikely to get removed. Poor lady.
I’ve taken out a few lower branches but taking out any more with a bucket truck would probably attract the attention of bylaw officers. And I don’t even have access to a bucket truck. Plus the trees wouldn’t look like normal trees.
And so the lady suffers every summer, sitting on sticky patio furniture and probably cursing her real estate agent.
She isn’t the only one. I have written a blog post after reading about another desperate home owner in Vancouver.
Still, we need trees in our cities and sticky honeydew can’t be enough to condemn them.