honeysuckle pests

Asked June 23, 2014, 5:50 PM EDT

We recently bought a home with a fairly extensive garden. One lovely feature is a gazebo with beautiful American honeysuckle vines, which bloomed happily through the snow on into December.

The first bloom this spring was lovely, but new growth started coming in distorted, both leaves and flowers being kind of "balled up". We are novice gardeners and didn't realize until today that most of the flowers are covered in... aphids? Scales? They're greenish, and crammed in every blossom so that they overlap.

Is there anything to be done, other than cut the whole plant back? Suggested treatments of spraying every location every two to three days for two weeks, which MIGHT help, seem pretty labor-intensive. There are far too many, and too deep inside, to wash them off.


Thank you,

Jefferson County Colorado trees and shrubs

3 Responses

The insects are likely honeysuckle aphids and they cause the severe leaf and stem curling that you are describing.
Aphids are attracted to succulent tender tissue (ie new growth), where they suck the sap from plants.
A less labor intensive method of management includes the use of systemic insecticides such as products containing imidacloprid (ie, Bayer Advanced Tree and Shrub Insect Control and others or acephate (Orthene).
Although more labor intensive, you can also prune out the affected plant tips and dispose of them. Usually by mid summer, lady beetles and parasitic wasps manage populations pretty well.

Thanks, Mary! I thought that's what they were, but it's good to have confirmation. I cut out the worst parts (sometimes whole branches were infested), and got some insecticidal soap spray. I didn't want to do the systemic because of all the bees and butterflies that come to them. I'll keep a closer watch on the uninfested plants...and I'll get me some ladybugs. I've only seen a couple this year so far.

Give the ladybugs some time; it takes a while to build up their populations. There has to be enough food to sustain the beetles.
Also look for brown bloated aphid bodies or even black ones; that could be a clue that the parasitic miniwasps are present.