Schefflera – Aphids

Q: I have a dwarf umbrella tree, Schefflera arboricola ‘Gold Capella’. I had it on my screened porch last summer and brought it inside in the fall. After bringing it inside, I noticed sticky areas on the top of some leaves, and there were tiny spots on top of the sticky areas. I took the plant outside and hosed it down with water and rubbed each leaf with a sponge. This did not help. Today I noticed tiny bugs with wings all over my window sill. The bugs must be from the plant, since the plant is in front of the window sill.

A: Wow! You have a really severe case of aphids on the schefflera leaves. At first I thought they were scale insects but scales do not have the many white legs I see in your photos. On the other hand, aphids cast off their skin, which then turns white, as they molt. Some aphid species have a flying stage, which explains the bugs on your windowsill.

As aphids suck plant sap, they excrete a sugary liquid called honeydew. This is the sticky stuff you found on the leaves.

Aphids have tender bodies. Insecticidal soap you buy at a garden center can be used to kill them. Spray the plant thoroughly at weekly intervals. Since just a couple of escapees can quickly repopulate your plant, keep a sharp eye out for honeydew and white skins in the future.

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