Woolly Hackberry Aphid – Control
Q: In early September in Cartersville there were huge numbers of white fluffy bugs floating around. Do you know what they are?
A: I think you’re seeing woolly hackberry aphids. The insects suck sap from hackberry (sugarberry) trees and exude an enormous amount of honeydew, which coats everything below. The honeydew causes black sooty mold on all surfaces.
Some years are worse than others. The hackberry tree beside my house in Decatur has never had the aphids. There is little you can do about them in fall except wash them away. I know they are a bother when they get on your face and clothes.
For longer control, use a product that contains imidacloprid (click for sources) . The chemical is a soil drench, so the best time to apply is in spring. It’s best to drench in May, after the tree flowers, in order to protect pollinators.