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Ash plant bugs

The damage ash plant bugs cause on ash trees becomes evident in late May and June when leaves develop a whitish or yellowish mottling on the upper leaf surface. You may find insects on the underside of the leaf where they feed on plant sap and leave small black dots or droppings.

Honeylocust plant bug, adult

Ash plant bug adults are pale yellow and brown to almost black in color and are three-sixteenths to one-fourth inch long. They have an elongated oval shape and a triangular pattern on the back where the wings fold. They're typical of other "true bugs" like the box elder bug, squash bug and stink bug. Their young are similar in appearance, minus the wings.

Ash plant bug injury

This common pest can be found on leaves throughout the growing season, first appearing in early May as leaves start to unfold. The whitish mottling develops as the bugs feed on plant sap, which damages leaf tissues. Feeding damage on newly unfolding leaves may appear as brown or burned areas, and severe infestations may cause premature leaf drop. Damage is most severe from early-season feeding, when leaf tissues are young and tender.

Ash plant bug

Damage from ash plant bugs is mostly cosmetic in appearance. Healthy trees are not severely hurt by their feeding, and control is unnecessary. Trees at high risk include new transplants and trees under stress, such as those suffering from drought.

Honeylocust plant bug nymph

Insecticides help protect the appearance of infested trees only if they are applied in early May when insects first appear. This usually occurs seven to ten days after leaf-buds open. insecticides applied after symptoms become highly noticeable have little value.

The systemic insecticide, Orthene (acephate), is excellent for this pest. Other common insecticides, such as insecticidal soaps, Sevin, permethrin, bifenthrin, cyfluthrin, and Malathion also are effective. Be sure to read and follow label directions when using any insecticide.

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Updated Friday, April 19, 2013