This time of year, you may see wasps
or ants on shiny, sticky leaves.
What are they doing there?
Looking for and eating/collecting honeydew.
So, what is honeydew?
Honeydew is a sticky/shiny substance that is actually a secretion (excrement)
from piercing, sucking insects like aphids or scale.
Typically, the homeowner sees bees and ants on their plants and wants to blame them. It’s not their fault. They are just looking for food like all the other insects. In addition to honeydew, sooty mold may begin to grow on the honeydew.
But don’t blame the honeydew. Look closely for what is producing it and take care of that problem.
Magnolias this time of year may appear to have sooty mold and bees.
A closer look might reveal magnolia scale
producing the honeydew.
Milkweed may have some sooty mold on lower leaves in addition to wasps.
A closer look near the top of the plant by the seed pod reveals aphids.
On a recent trip to a cemetery, I discovered honeydew on lower leave of tree of heaven in addition to a wasp
and an ant on the top of the leaf.
Looking up higher in the tree and along the stem revealed a heavy infestation of spotted lanternfly.
The take-home message. Don’t blame the honeydew on the wasps and ants.
Look closer to find out who/what is producing the substance!