tri color beach mature and still has the aphids #721681 - Ask Extension


tri color beach mature and still has the aphids #721681

Asked September 07, 2020, 12:37 PM EDT

I just saw the answer about the young tri-color beech tree, and when ours was young we tried spraying the water and soap, and tried lady bugs that marched right down and out. it kept growing anyway and being beautiful. aphids would come but every spring it would be beautiful again. people took photos, it was so pretty. We love it so much that this week we paid an arborist to make it healthier. now the tree is mis-shapen and the center of its lower third gone, while nothing thinned from the rest of it and twisted branches rubbing into each other still remain. I'm sorry I let anyone touch it. Will I somehow have a happy tree in spring?

Multnomah County Oregon

Expert Response

I'm sorry to hear about what happened to your tri-color beech. They are certainly showy specimens in a landscape.

Aphids are common yearly pests on all beech trees. Often, a harsh spray from the hose can blast many off the tree, especially when the harsh spray is repeated as needed.

The challenge facing you and everyone else is that the "missed" aphids which remain on the leaves will rapidly re-populate the tree.
The reason: Aphid mothers give live-birth to an already pregnant youngster every 20 minutes!

To be effective, insecticidal soap must coat each individual aphid, a more than difficult task. Such is the reason for label directions to repeat as needed, the label typically stating a specific interval.

Ladybugs are well known by researchers to leave the landscape the morning after they are released.

The reason: Ladybugs are collected when they are dormant, then often refrigerated until they are sold. Unfortunately for gardeners who believe they now have a quick fix for an aphid problem, the ladybugs leave in short order. In fact, ladybugs are only following their naturally-occurring genetic programming to fly upwards as the temperature starts rising the next day, catch a breeze, and go elsewhere.

So do yourself a lot of grief; don't buy any more ladybugs, no matter what the seller's claims are.

As you know there's more to this sad story because you currently have a deformed tree due to poor pruning. In the future, always hire a Certified Arborist because such persons must pass a test and then must acquire continuing education units to further their knowledge.

Interview at least 3 Certified Arborists during on-site evaluations, They (or their companies) may be able to do both corrective pruning and beech aphid sprays in a timely manner.

Please understand that re-structuring the deformed tree may require several consecutive years. In some cases, it's faster to replace the tree with a new specimen.

See "Why Hire an [Certified] Arborist?" -

To locate Certified Arborists, search with your zip code at

Hope this helps.

Jean R. Natter Replied September 08, 2020, 2:00 PM EDT

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