Let me begin by saying I'm not much of a gardener, I can do the basics like trimming the hedges and cutting the grass with a lawn mower, but that's about it.

I live in West Yorkshire, UK.

Today when planting some mint in a pot (another experiment, usually things I plant die), I noticed some bugs on a tree I have in the corner. I'm not sure what the tree is, or what the bugs are, I just know I like that tree and I don't want it to die.

Here are some photos I just took:

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I have a few questions:

  1. What are these insects and why are there so many of them on the tips?
  2. Can they kill the plant?
  3. What can I do to get rid of them?
  4. Will the solution in step 3, be instant? Or will it take months/years?
  5. What can I do to prevent this from happening again?

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you.

  • FYI: your 'tree' is a honeysuckle (lonicera) of some type; the small bugs are aphids (greenfly or something similar); and the red and black-spotted beetle is a ladybird. The ladybird and its larvae both eat aphids. May 23 at 17:14

3 Answers 3


Not being from the UK, I'd say:

  1. Aphids. Because they hatch out and go to feed.
  2. They certainly don't help it, as they are sucking sap from it.
  3. Insecticidal soap solution (which can be washing-up liquid at a certain dilution, IIRC - or purchased as such.
  4. Rapid.
  5. Not much - kill them again if they show up again. Or encourage ladybird beetles (what we call ladybugs over here, but I think that's right for you.) But they often don't hang around much once pest populations drop.

Are these pests or ladybird larvae?

Ladybird beetle (or Ladybug)

But I see you have at least one beetle working on the problem now! In which case you might want to let them handle it, or limit yourself to brushing the high concentrations of aphids off into a cup of soapy water, rather than spraying anything on the plants.


I agree with the other answer - they are aphids, and they prefer new growth because it's soft, tender and probably tastier. Aphids are persistent and you will likely need to treat more than once - you can buy both contact and systemic insecticides, but unless it's a systemic type (which works for up to a fortnight), they will only kill what's on the plant when it's sprayed. Usually, the active ingredient in a systemic type will kill all insects and is best avoided for something relatively innocuous like aphids. If you choose to spray the plant, make sure you spray both the top and underside of the leaves.

Your 'tree' is actually a Lonicera (honeysuckle) of some variety; it looks to be a twining climbing type, and really needs a support to attach itself too and up which it can climb, such as a trellis. Without seeing the flowers, it's hard to say which variety it might be.

  • Thanks, I’ll start treatment tomorrow. What kind of support should I install on the wall behind it?
    – J86
    May 20 at 18:12
  • I'd suggest a wooden trellis, preferably a strong rigid type, say 2 or 3 feet wide by 5 or 6 feet long, fixed to the wall vertically - make sure you put the side with the longer struts against the wall so there's a little gap between the horizontal, shorter struts for the plant to twine right round. You'll see what this means when you look at a trellis panel - you;ll find this type probably in the fencing section.
    – Bamboo
    May 20 at 18:25
  • @Bamboo It is easy to add spacers between the trellis and the wall so that the plant can twine around all the struts. Something like plastic tubing will be easy to cut to consistent lengths and fit over the screws, you just need to use screws 1/2" or so longer than you would have otherwise. May 21 at 8:12
  • @Bamboo I've just come back from my local B&Q and got myself this trellis (photos). Should the vertical wood be against the wall? Or the horizontal? I also got this spray (photos)
    – J86
    May 21 at 10:09
  • 1
    @Bamboo I thought it was worth mentioning so the whole trellis is easily available to the plant. I suppose that also there would be less space available behind the wood for parasites to hide from their predators. May 21 at 19:03

They are aphids, and while they don't do the plant any good they are very unlikely to kill it. The plant is a honeysuckle, which is a very vigorous grower. The aphids can only attack the new, soft growth: once it hardens off it is immune - so effectively they will prune it, which it looks like you do anyway.

You can spray them, which will be a short term solution to the problem, but you will also kill predators like the ladybird shown in the background, setting the scene for another outbreak. It is much better to be patient and let a balance between pests and predators build up.

  • It isn't just ladybirds who eat aphids; small birds such as blue tits do, too. May 23 at 17:07

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