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Fruit tree pests and diseases

Woolly Aphid.

Cause
Woolly Aphid Eriosoma lanigerum is a sap sucking aphid that can attack most fruit trees but can also be found on ornamental shrubs too such as cotoneaster, hawthorn, pyracantha and sorbus.

Symptoms
Woolly aphid appears as a fluffy cotton wool like mass often around pruning cuts or in cracks in the bark in early spring and progressing onto new growth as the summer progresses.
Woolly aphid can also be found in the roots of some apple rootstocks, more notably M9 rootstock, where it is evident as white blotches on the roots.
The main issue with this pest is that it creates wounds in the bark allowing secondary infection to occur. The bark forms a lump where it has been attacked, which can split in frosty weather, again providing a point for secondary infection to occur.

Treatment
The aphids have a waxy coat, making treatment with sprays difficult, however products containing thiacloprid, such as Bayer Ready to use Pravado Bug Killer, or lambda-cyhalothrin such as Westland Plant Rescue Fruit and Vegetable Bug Killer. These chemicals should not be used when the tree is in blossom and not within two weeks of harvest.
Those seeking a less chemical approach, they can be removed by hand, just rubbing off. This is a messy exercise as they stain blue. Alternatively use a strong jet of water to wash off or use a stiff paint brush or toothbrush and scrub with methylated spirits.
Immature aphids over-winter in cracks in the bark and this is one of the reasons why gardeners use winter tree washes to control the infections.