Tuliptree (Liriodendron)

Leaf Feeders

Yellow poplar(sassafras) weevil
Lee Townsend, University of Kentucky Entomology
Yellow poplar weevils, also known as sassafras weevils, or magnolia weevils, are small black snout beetles that damage tuliptree, sassafras, and magnolia. Adults chew distinctive holes in the leaves that resemble curved rice grains in size and shape. The larval stage, a white legless grub, develops and feeds inside the leaves of poplar and sassafras. The combined activity of adults and larvae can cause significant leaf loss. While injured leaves cause the trees to be unsightly, damage to established trees probably does not affect their overall health. For more information, see Entfact 414.


Sap Feeders

John A. Weidhass, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Bugwood.org
Aphids are soft-bodied insects that use their piercing sucking mouthparts to feed on plant sap. They usually occur in colonies on the undersides of tender terminal growth in the spring. Heavily-infested leaves can wilt or turn yellow and senesce prematurely because of excessive sap removal. While the plant may look bad, aphid feeding generally will not seriously harm healthy, established trees.

Some plants are very sensitive to feeding by certain aphid species. Saliva injected into plants by these aphids may cause leaves to pucker or to become severely distorted, even if only a few aphids are present. Also, aphid feeding on flower buds and fruit can cause malformed flowers or fruit.

Aphids produce large amounts of a sugary liquid waste called "honeydew". The honeydew that drops from these insects can spot the windows and finish of cars parked under infested trees. A fungus called sooty mold can grow on honeydew deposits that accumulate on leaves and branches, turning them black. The appearance of sooty mold on plants may be the first time that an aphid infestation is noticed. The drops can attract other insects such as ants, flies, and wasps that will feed on the sticky deposits. For more information, see Entfact 103.

Calico scale
Raymond Gill, California Department of Food and Agriculture, Bugwood.org
Calico scale is a white and dark brown soft scale about 1/4 inch in diameter. It produces a large amount of honeydew in the spring so twigs, branches, and leaves may be covered with sooty mold. This scale can severely weaken trees, making them more vulnerable to drought and other stresses. Egg hatch occurs in May and the crawlers move to leaves to feed for the summer. Nymphs move back to bark for the winter.

Tuliptree scale
Gerald J. Lenhard, Louisiana State University, Bugwood.org
Tuliptree scale is a large, 1/3 inch diameter, soft scale that infests tuliptree or yellow poplar, magnolia, and occasionally linden. Female covers can vary from gray to pink mottled with black. Large numbers of this hemispherical scale can give infested branches a bumpy or warty appearance and may cause branch dieback. Tuliptree scales produce large amounts of honeydew so leaves are often shiny or may be covered with sooty mold.

There is one generation of the tuliptree scale each year. They spend the winter in an immature stage with females maturing during late summer and laying eggs that hatch in August. For more information, see Entfact 435.


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