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.

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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?

The psyllids or plant suckers are a group of sap sucking true bugs (Hemiptera). There are more than 40 species found in Britain.

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, no longer occur. 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.


Plants with large populations 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. 


Check Elaeagnus frequently from late winter onwards so action can be taken before a damaging population has developed. When choosing control options you can minimise harm to non-target animals by starting with the methods in the non-pesticide control section. If this is not sufficient to reduce the damage to acceptable levels then you may choose to use pesticides. Within this group the shorter persistence pesticides (that are usually certified for organic growing) are likely to be less damaging to non-target wildlife than those with longer persistence and/or systemic action.

Non-pesticide control

  • Often suckers do not affect the growth or vigour of plants and so can be tolerated
  • Encourage predators and other natural enemies of suckers, in the garden, such as birds, ladybirds, wasps and ground beetles
  • If necessary distorted leaves can be removed from the plant however, this may cause more damage than the insect


Pesticide control

The RHS believes that avoiding pests, diseases and weeds by good practice in cultivation methods, cultivar selection, garden hygiene and encouraging or introducing natural enemies, should be the first line of control. If chemical controls are used, they should be used only in a minimal and highly targeted manner.
  • Organic sprays, such as natural pyrethrum (e.g. Bug Clear Gun for Fruit & Veg, Neudorff Bug Free Bug and Larvae Killer), fatty acids (e.g. Doff Greenfly & Blackfly Killer) or plant oils (e.g. Vitax Plant Guard Pest & Disease Control, Bug Clear for Fruit and Veg) can give good control of suckers. These pesticides have a very short persistence and so may require reapplication to keep sucker numbers in check. Plant oil and fatty acid products are less likely to affect larger insects such as ladybird adults
  • Plant invigorators combine nutrients to stimulate plant growth with surfactants or fatty acids that have a physical mode of action against aphids (e.g. Ecofective Bug Control, RHS Bug and Mildew Control, SB Plant Invigorator and Westland Resolva Natural Power Bug & Mildew). These products contain some synthetic ingredients and so are not considered organic
  • More persistent contact-action insecticides include the synthetic pyrethroids lambda-cyhalothrin (e.g. Westland Resolva Bug Killer), deltamethrin (e.g. Provanto Ultimate Fruit & Vegetable Bug Killer, Provanto Sprayday Greenfly Killer) and cypermethrin (e.g. Py Bug Killer)
  • A systemic containing the active ingredient Flupyradifurone (Provanto Smart Bug Killer) is available for use on ornamentals and selected edibles
  • The systemic neonicotinoid insecticide acetamiprid (e.g. Bug Clear Ultra) is also available
Follow label instructions when using pesticides.

Plants in flower should not be sprayed due to the danger to bees and other pollinating insects.

Inclusion of a pesticide product does not indicate a recommendation or endorsement by RHS Gardening Advice. It is a list of products currently available to the home gardener.


Pesticides for gardeners (link downloads pdf document outlining pesticides available to gardeners)


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 with the largest populations occurring on the new growth in the spring. It probably overwinters as eggs which hatch in mid-February. 

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