How to Identify Insects on a Poplar Tree

Written by laura hageman
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The triangular to circular shaped leaves on poplar trees can become victims of several kinds of insects that prey on these trees. Several insects live on the branches and leaves and in the trunks of poplar trees. The insects pose potential danger to the trees, and if they are not removed they might eventually kill it. Spraying insecticide two times a year helps to remove many of the insects that you find on poplar trees. Learn how to develop a sharp eye for identifying some of these harmful insects.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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  1. 1

    Notice little green or yellow larvae on the poplar tree branches or leaves. The larval stage is the dangerous phase of leaf feeding caterpillars, which have six legs. Once these caterpillars become adults they change colour and become hairy. The larvae eat the leaves and buds on the poplar tree until they become adults. An infestation of leaf feeding caterpillars can eventually kill the tree.

  2. 2

    Look in the spring for leaf beetles on the poplar. They feed on the leaves, leaving behind holes on the veins of leaves. They also feed on the branches making them weak. There are several kinds of leaf beetles. The most common found on the poplar tree are lilly beetles and cottonwood beetles. Lily leaf beetles have a red body with black legs and face while the cottonwood beetles are yellow. They can be found on the underside of a leaf.

  3. 3

    Search for white egg sacs that could be located on poplar tree limbs. These belong to the cottony cushion scale insect. Cottony cushion scale insects are born tiny and red or yellow: no bigger than five mm. The egg sacs are about two times the size of the adult female. They eat the sap from the poplar tree throughout the summer months.

  4. 4

    Look for chewed bark and branches on the poplar tree. Poplar and willow borers eat the bark and branches, making holes in various areas of the tree. Poplar and willow borers are black with wings and are no bigger than eight to ten mm long. The larvae eat during the summer months and emerge as adults by spring. They continue to feed on the bark and tree limbs. Evidence of such insects is weak branches and sawdust piles under holes in the bark of the tree.

  5. 5

    Spray in winter for the poplar petiolegall aphid (also known as cabbage root aphids) that eats at the roots of poplar trees. They can be seen during fall or summer on the leaves. They are light grey covered in bluish wax.

Tips and warnings

  • It is best to spray for insects on poplar trees in the winter and again in the summer.

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