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We have a 30 year old Little leaf linden (Tilia cordata) on the north side of the property. Although it is apparently healthy every year it gets galls on the leaves and aphids.

The aphids secrete a sticky sap which covers the car from June through September and attracts wasps and flies.

A few years I have tried a dormant oil spray in late winter to try and control the aphid eggs which are probably in the bark of the tree. My results were mixed as my hand sprayer will not reach to the top of the tree which is now around 30 feet (10 M) tall.

Are there any other methods to control or reduce the aphid population on the tree?

Edit: The situation got worse every year. Yellow jackets were attracted to the sap or the aphids. They established a nest in the siding of the house. There were so many they were flying into the car or the house when the doors were opened. An exterminator got rid of the wasps but new ones moved in to feed on the sap.
Solution: we had the tree removed and stumped. The rooms were brighter, I don't have to clean out the gutters every year and other shrubs and flowers are doing much better.

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The most effective and safest solution would be to call a tree service. They will have the equipment to reach and cover the tree in its entirety which is essential for proper control.

Otherwise you need to get yourself higher (ladder or get on the roof) or find a more powerful sprayer.

My Ortho Dial-N-Spray sprays farther than my pump sprayer but I don't think that will be high enough. I can get about 12-15' with it.

If you have a pressure washer you can pick up a an injector for it and that might be able to give you a little more reach. That still might not be enough but in combination with a ladder might do the trick.

Alternately, have you considered purchasing and releasing lady bugs as a biological aphid control? Sounds like they'd love that tree.

One more option I haven't used myself but claims to reach 30' high is a trombone sprayer. They cost around $60+.

Update:

Most of my direct experience with tree spraying was for adelgid but I had to look into the same types of dormant and horticultural oils as well as insecticidal soaps.

Your biggest issue seems to be not getting total coverage with the dormant oil. It sounds like the trombone sprayer will be the best option and costs less than a single visit from a tree service in my area.

Once the weather gets warmer, if you still have an issue you can use an insecticidal soap/horticultural oil or just regularly spray with a hose to knock the aphids off.

You said the honeydew gets on the car so I would think that would mean the tree is close to your home. If you can have someone throw a hose up at you while you're at an upstairs window (if you have one near the tree) you might be able to cover a decent amount. Either that or get on the roof or prop a ladder up near the garage wall. That's the cheapest, least toxic way to deal with it but you have to be careful.

In the past I used Volck Oil. Depending on the dilution it can be used as either a dormant or horticultural oil. The next year I still had some adelgid and I switched to this combination Neem/potassium fatty acid spray that is no longer made. It worked just as well as did plain neem oil but things weren't as bad by that point. I haven't sprayed in a few years. I just hose down the tree from time to time with water and haven't noticed a reinfestation.

The most important thing when spraying with a horticultural oil is to mind the weather and do a small test to make sure it won't damage the tree. I used to get up before the sun on a day that was supposed to be cloudy. A day when it's supposed to rain is great since the oil/soap kills instantly so it doesn't matter if it gets washed off after spraying. If you have an infestation and a heat wave I would just spray as much of the tree as possible with plain water in the early morning. At least over the car.

  • A tree service is going to have a considerable cost for what is basically a nuisance. We have a population of ladybugs on the property already but they don't seem interested in the aphids. I'm not sure releasing more would be a reliable solution. – kevinsky Oct 4 '13 at 14:55
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    @kevinsky consider that a little disclaimer before suggesting standing on a ladder or climbing on a roof with a pressure washer. :) I added a link to a video of a trombone sprayer that might do what you want. Portable 12v spray rigs cost hundreds and still only get to about 30'. I'm not sure your timing is the best but your area might be different. I think early spring might be better? You may also want to consider early morning sprays of insecticidal soap a few times during the season when it's not too hot and sunny. – OrganicLawnDIY Oct 4 '13 at 16:29
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We've used a non-spray product in the past that has controlled aphids to some degree on one of our ornamental trees. It is produced by Bayer, and is a granule or liquid product you pour at the base of the tree where it is absorbed by the entire tree system over time. It protects against several common insect pests, including aphids, and also feeds the tree as well. It is called "12 Month Tree & Shrub Protect & Feed II."

Since this method does not require spraying on the ornamental trees (with all the associated issues that go with that method, ie, need for special equipment and accidental overspray risks) then it might be easier to get approval for using it where you live. Good luck!

  • This product is very effective and is known as imidacloprid or Merit. Sadly in Ontario, it is only available to licensed pesticide applicators. – kevinsky Oct 2 '13 at 18:25
  • Imidacloprid is a systematic insecticide and should never be used on Lindens. Lindens trees are pollinated by bees and neonicotods have been linked to the decline of bees. READ THE LABEL before buying or using any pesticides. – user14020 Mar 8 '16 at 1:41
  • Have you tried feeding birds in your locality to encourage those who would also feed on the aphids? In turn the honeydew residue would be reduced. If you have a population of ants, these will farm the aphids. In restricting the ant population you can stop the farming. Put an insect home and bird house nearby, and hope they do the job for you. – user13638 Mar 9 '16 at 6:56

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