Curious Misting Under Tulip Poplar Tree Is Result of Sap-Sucking Insect

Filed under Plants, Misc by Lauren Cook on .

Have you noticed a mysterious misting or raining in the areas surrounding your tulip poplar tree? Maybe you've noticed a residue on your car or patio furniture. Tulip poplars are known for having very few pest or disease problems. However, the warm spring earlier this year has brought about a sap-sucking scale that has been feeding on tulip poplars in Southern Illinois and other parts of the Midwest. The scale will suck sap from the tree's limbs and branches. The liquid that appears to me raining from the tree is actually the scale's excrement, called honeydew. An infestation of scale can lead to entire branches turning black and dieing. The small, round scale can be seen lining all sides of the twigs and branches. If left untreated, the tree could die.

Tulip poplars can be treated for this scale with a systemic insecticide administered by an arborist. The ideal time for treatment is late July/ August when the scale is in it's crawling stage. Treatments can be costly, ranging from a few hundred to a thousand dollars per tree. Or you can wait til next spring and try spraying a horticultural oil, if your tulip poplar is of manageable size. If it isn't, you might want to start thinking about removing the tree and replacing it with a different species or keep your fingers crossed that next year's spring is cold enough to keep these pesky guys at bay. Any damage that you have already seen on your tulip poplars, is likely not get any worse as the summer progresses, as the tree has already put out it's new growth for the year.