Elaeagnus sucker

Elaeagnus sucker is a sap sucking insect that can cause distortion to the leaves of Elaeagnus. It can also produce honeydew on which sooty mould can grow.

Elaeagnus sucker adult

Quick facts

Common name Elaeagnus sucker
Scientific name Cacopsylla fulguralis
Plants affected Elaeagnus × ebbingei, E. pungens, E. macrophylla, E. glabra, E. cuprea and E. oldhamii
Main symptoms Distorted leaves, honeydew and sooty mould
Most active February to September

What is Elaeagnus sucker?

Elaeagnus sucker or psyllid is a sap sucking insect. These are a group of sap-feeding insects allied to aphids

Elaeagnus sucker originates from eastern Asia and was first detected in Britain in 2002. It has spread rapidly and now occurs throughout most of England and parts of Wales.

When elaeagnus sucker first arrived in Britain, it spread very rapidly and was feared to become a major problem for Elaeagnus. In many places however, the high populations, seen soon after the insects arrival, are no longer occurring. This suggests that natural enemies may be having an effect on this insect helping to keep it at relatively low levels at which serious damage does not occur.

Symptoms

Plants with heavy infestations of elaeagnus sucker become covered with honeydew, a sugary excrement from the suckers, on which can grow a black sooty mould. New growth is often distorted and some damaged leaves may drop off. 

Control

Non-chemical control

Pick off and dispose of affected leaves or allow natural enemies to control sucker populations when infestation is light.

Chemical control

  • Pesticide sprays are likely to be most effective when newly-hatched nymphs first appear in February or March
  • There is no point in spraying later in the year once the feeding damage has occurred
  • Available products include the contact action pyrethroid insecticides deltamethrin (e.g. Bayer Sprayday Greenfly Killer) lambda-cyhalothrin (e.g. Westland Resolva Bug Killer) and cypermethrin (Py Bug Killer). The systemic neonicotinoid insecticide acetamiprid (e.g. Bug Clear Ultra) is also approved. Organic sprays containing natural pyrethrum (e.g. Bug Clear Gun for Fruit & Veg) may have some effect
  • Do not spray near plants in flower due to the danger to pollinating insects
  • Inclusion of a pesticide product does not indicate a recommendation or endorsement by the RHS. It is a list of products currently available to the home gardener

Pesticides for gardeners (Adobe Acrobat pdf document outlining pesticides available to gardeners)

Biology

Adult elaeagnus sucker are 2-4mm long and have two pairs of have transparent wings with black shading which are held roof-like over their abdomen when at rest. The orange-yellow nymphs are wingless and flattened so the width of their bodies is much greater than the depth. Older nymphs have large pads on the margins of the upper thorax where the wings will develop.

It has several generations during the summer but the heaviest infestations occur on the new growth in the spring. It probably overwinters as eggs which hatch in mid-February. 

Colony of Elaeagnus sucker nymphs, each with tube of honeydew
Elaeagnus sucker final instar nymph
Leaves covered with sooty mould growing on honeydew excreted by the elaeagnus sucker
    Colony of Elaeagnus sucker nymphs, each with tube of honeydew Elaeagnus sucker final instar nymph Leaves covered with sooty mould growing on honeydew excreted by the elaeagnus sucker

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