Have you noticed something strange clinging to trees in the area?
Sue Stuczynski did about a month ago.
"I first noticed this white substance on the tree limbs on a neighbor's property across the street," she said from her Carol Avenue home in Fredonia.
This soft maple tree on Carol Avenue in Fredonia appears to be infested with Cottony Maple Scale insects which lay the egg sacs that look like cotton balls.
A closer investigation revealed what appeared to be cottony bulbs attached to the branches. Once she spotted these, she began noticing them in different places.
"I saw some on my mother's trees on Robin Street in Dunkirk and at the Lucas Avenue ballfield where our grandson plays ball," Sue wrote in an e-mail she sent to OBSERVER publisher John D'Agostino.
She also contacted Dr. Terry Bates at the Cornell Lake Erie Research and Extension Lab in Portland to find out if he could provide some information.
In response, Dr. Bates said he thinks the substance is an indication of Cottony Maple Scale infestation.
"In general, it is a nuisance but nothing to really worry about," he said
in an e-mail to Stuczynski.
She thinks there is cause for concern.
"The trees with this substance on them appear to be dying," she said.
She went on to note that cars, porch furniture and house siding is being covered with a sticky film.
"In an attempt to try and remove this film, my neighbor is hand scrubbing the side of her house," Stuczynski said.
Dr. Bates also provided a website that provided extensive information about the Cottony Maple Scale Insect. It indicated that a large number of these overwintering insect scales are present on many hardwood trees such as maple, ash, elm, popular and honey locust.
According to Janet Knodel, an entomologist with North Dakota Extension Service, the silver maple is a favorite host.
"In the spring, white cottony egg sacs are produced. It gives the appearance of cotton balls being strung from the twigs," she said.
She went on to say overwintering females complete development in June and lay eggs through late summer.
Each cottony white egg mass contains 1,000 to 1,500 eggs. These eggs hatch and spend the remainder of the summer feeding on the tree's leaves. This insect feeding can cause twig dieback and severe infestations can kill major limbs and occasionally the entire tree, Knodel said.
She also said these soft scale insects secrete sticky honeydew which can cause problems with items underneath them, such as cars and picnic tables.
Another negative aspect of this honeydew is that it attracts bees and ants. It also promotes the growth of black, sooty mold fungi, Knodel said.
The Carol Avenue residents know full well what she is talking about.
"I'm really concerned it will kill the trees that are infested with it," Stuczynski said.
Knodel suggests the use of products that go by the names of Merit and Bauer Advanced Tree and Shrub.
"It can be applied as a soil drench near the base of the infected tree. It may take the insecticide a week for small trees and up to three months for large trees to reach areas where the insects are feeding," Knodel said.
Knodel also advises users of systemic insecticides to always read and follow the instructions on the label and to follow the safety precautions.
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