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Saturday, February 28, 2015

Giant Willow Aphid

A curious mixed swarm of honey bees, wasps, bumble bees and flies feeding from something on the grass beneath a basket willow tree in a garden in Riverton alerted me to the presence of masses of huge grey aphids cloaking the stems of several of the willow's branches, and I knew immediately that the Giant Willow Aphid Tuberolachnus salignus had arrived in the Deep South. I'd been hoping it wouldn't get here, but it has and for a willow-grower like me, this is very bad news. This aphid is far bigger than those we are accustomed to and, while it only feeds on willows, causes great harm to anyone relying upon willows for any purpose, from basket-making to shelter belts. I've collected a jar-full to take to the regional council for their records and intend to douse the remaining aphids in detergent, the only solution I've read of that is effective without being lethal to other creatures. Here's what they look like. They're not pretty and neither is the result of their occupation.

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