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How to Control Wooly Aphids, the Fluffy White Pest on Apple Trees

Woolly aphids are sap-sucking pests that are bluish-black in colour that produce a covering of fluffy white wax that resembles wool. They can be found clustered around the bases of new shoots on branches, wounds on trunks and branches, and on exposed roots of apple trees.

These pests also attack various other shrubs and trees, including alder, elm, mountain ash, hawthorn, serviceberry (Amelanchier), and firethorn (Pyracantha) trees. Infestations of woolly aphids tend to be sporadic, and vary depending on time of year, location and tree species.

Wooly aphids feeding on an apple tree, we can see that some of the aphids have not produced their white woolly covering yet, and appear blue-black in colour

The sap loss caused by aphid feeding is usually not significant enough to reduce the vigour of healthy trees, but with heavy infestations the leaves may droop, or dry out, shrivel and drop prematurely. The biggest problem with sap-sucking insects is that they can spread diseases from tree to tree.

Wooly aphids are often mistaken for being a fungus or some other fixed growth on the tree but they’re mobile insects that can freely move around!

Management of Woolly Aphids

All aphids that are visible on trees and shrubs, including wooly aphids, can be blasted off with a moderate jet of water to remove them

It’s easy to control woolly aphids using safe, environmentally friendly control methods.

Hover fly larvae are voracious predators of aphids, and they consume them in great numbers. A study by Washington State University in 2013 found that planting sweet alyssum flowers attracted hover flies which did a good job of reducing woolly aphid populations. The study’s findings were that:

This study can be found at –

Using any of these methods or even better, a combination of them, can effectively control woolly aphids in fruit trees.


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