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I did get to spend some time in the garden this week. I noticed on a small hazel sprout in the garden that some of the leaves were all puckered.

Upon closer inspection, the problem was quite apparent--aphids were en masse on the underside of the leaves.

Aphids are sucking insects which usually feed on the underside of leaves or on the tips where more tender growth is. As they suck the sap from the foliage, they give off a sticky sweet substance called honeydew. The leaves around their feeding may feel sticky to the touch with the honeydew. If the honeydew stays around, ants may come to feed on it, and/or a black sooty mold will form. For this much damage, I would recommend pruning the limbs off with the damaged leaves and destroying them. I left them for the short term since I did have lady bugs around. These two were not as interested in feeding, but hopefully will be producing more that will be.

Lady bugs will eat the aphids, both the adult lady bug and the larvae ladybug which looks like a small crocodile.

I will prune the damaged leaves off this week.

Luckily the aphids seemed to be limited to this one plant, but that can change quickly--aphids multiply in leaps and bounds, since adults can give birth to living young, and those new young insects start the process over themselves.

Aphids come in a variety of colors from white, green, brown and orange.

They are not too picky about which plants they feed on, but some are preferred. Aphids can transmit diseases through their feeding, and they can also cause plant distortion, like is show in the leaves of this plant. Some plants are more sensitive to their feeding, or their foliage is so new and tender, that when the saliva from the aphids is injected into the plant, the leaves become puckered or distorted.

It is important to walk your garden regularly and scout for problems. If you find a problem, proper identification is the first step to control.

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