Do you know whats causing the glisteny, sticky stuff coating a lot of leaves on trees along the Animas River Trail earlier this summer? It cant be good. Susan Oleskevich
Youre right. Its not good its fantastic. But only if youre a sap-sucking insect.
This year was brutal for deciduous trees, according to several experts, who said the shiny film you see on leaves is honeydew.
Were not talking about melons or a list of husbandly chores.
Honeydew is the sugar-rich secretion of aphids and some other insects that feed on plant juices.
What happened this year was the perfect storm for aphid infestation, said Jelly Bean Cantrell, owner of Vital Beauty Gardening.
The temperatures were warm enough for aphids to hatch and thrive but cold enough to limit their natural predators like lacewings. Then it was hot and dry, so by midsummer, the aphids had the upper hand, he said.
City arborist Ron Stoner concurred. The lack of rains, until the monsoons kicked in, really allowed aphids to explode along the Animas River Trail and everywhere, he said. But the late rains helped knock down the infestations.
Honeydew itself is harmless, but the act of creating honeydew causes problems.
Basically, if you see a canopy of glistening leaves, youre witnessing a tree thats slowly bleeding from umpteen insect pinpricks.
Unfortunately, theres not a lot you can do once the aphids swarm on a large greenbelt such as the Animas River Trail, where nature takes its course.
Homeowners, on the other hand, can intervene. A good blast of water from the garden hose will reduce aphids. Spraying infested trees with a mild soapy solution also will help, but will also reduce the good insects along with the bad ones.
When Mrs. Action Line noticed the appalling number of aphids on the beleaguered old cherry tree and the tall willow, she went to Plan C and declared it a natural jihad.
Armed with four bags of ladybugs purchased from the good folks at Durango Nursery and Supply, Mrs. Action Line unleashed thousands of hungry predators on the unwanted sap-sucking pests.
When it comes to aphid infestations, you dont mess around with Mrs. Action Line.
Anyway, as bad as this year was for aphids, the city arborist pointed out that we have a new pest to contend with: the elm flea weevil.
Stoner pointed to some Siberian elms. Their leaves had lots of small holes, which made them look like lace doilies.
Thats the work of the weevil. We hadnt seen them here until this year, and now they are all over the place, and well never be rid of them, he lamented.
In a few short weeks, all this will be a moot point, as autumn leaves fall to the ground and winter sets in. Regardless, the weevil is here to stay.
Because the elm flea weevil is small and works quietly, its difficult to say what weevils will do next year.
In that regard, Action Line will see no weevil, hear no weevil and speak no weevil.
The Mea Culpa Mailbag has an outstanding observation from our sagacious satirist Marta Bergin, who says we can never let anyone rename Florida Road.
Weve always been able to tell true Durangoans from tourists by the way they pronounce it (that and knowing where Elmores Store is/used to be, and how to properly say Goeglein Gulch), she writes.
Just like true New Yorkers know you pronounce Houston House-Ton, not Hyews-ton. And Californians never call that Bay Area town Frisco unless they want to be publicly shunned, she adds.
All South Dakotans know that Pierre is pronounced Peer, not Pee-air. And dont ask for directions to New Or-leens; it doesnt exist (NAwlins does, however). In the true spirit of small-town snobbery, we need to stop these drastic changes.
Email questions to email@example.com or mail them to Action Line, The Durango Herald, 1275 Main Ave., Durango, CO 80301. You can request anonymity if you think Sept. 12 is too early for a store to display Halloween candy.