Photo by Phil Junker
Poplar tree scale disease results from insects which secrete a sticky, sugary substance. It's not sap. It.s bug "poop".
An old green lawn chair sits at the end of my lot on the bank of the lake. It is located beneath a couple of poplar trees.
I often slip down to the chair with a container of worms and try my luck for bluegill. Sometimes my grandkids accompany me. The gills usually cooperate.
Several times when I had been in the area late in the afternoon, I noticed the grass looked like it was wet. But with the hot dry weather that didn’t seem possible, but I didn’t give it much thought.
A few days ago, wearing swim trunks and a tee shirt, I headed for my chair with worms and a rod and reel in hand. I noticed the chair looked a bit damp, but the old man (me) ignored it. That is until I started to get up and head for the house after catching a half dozen bluegill.
Opps! As I stood up the chair came with me. It was stuck to my large posterior. No, it wasn’t too large for the chair. The chair was stuck to my swim trunks. Well, I started to pull the chair from the trunks and down started the trunks. Glad no one was around or I probably would have been posted on You Tube, or maybe America’s Funniest Home Videos.
Once the swim trunks were pulled from the chair, it was obvious further investigation was in order. It was sticky everywhere under the poplar trees, and the leaves seemed to be shinny with “goo”.
In all my years wandering in the woods, I had never seen anything quite like it.
Arriving in the house, I first removed the trunks and my wife, Phyllis instructed me to put some spray stuff she uses before placing them in the laundry basket. Next, I headed for the computer to post a query on Facebook.
Within a couple of minutes, my grandson, Denver sent me a note as did a fellow from Canada, explaining it is a common problem with poplars with what is called tulip tree scale insects. According to Denver, it is especially bad this year because of the warm winter and dry spring. Apparently, Denver learned about the poplar scale insect problem from a Boy Scout outing.
According to Garden Guides.com, the tulip tree scale (insect) sucks the tree's sap and is especially harmful to saplings. Even in mature trees, the scales are a nuisance. They secrete a sticky, sugary substance that attracts ants and wasps, which can exacerbate the scale damage with the harm they themselves do. Additionally, this sugary mix generally leads to mold growth that can damage the tulip tree's leaves and twigs.
But, it said nothing about sticking to your swim trunks and tee shirt.
The poplar is the state tree of Kentucky, Indiana and Tennessee.
I since have learned numerous friends have had similar problems with the insects and sticky goo in the past, but not the the extent of this year. Now, I note my neighbor’s poplars also are infected. Just seems to be the poplars.
Several sources have suggested spraying the trunk of three and any limbs I can reach with a systemic insect control chemical. Anyone have any specific suggestions of a brand to use? It also has been suggested to use a dormant oil spray in early spring.
Guess, I’ll have to cover the old chair with newspapers the next time I head down to bother the bluegill.