Hot and sticky summer: What little creature is making Winnipeggers feel sticky

WINNIPEG — There hasn’t been much rain in Winnipeg and that has led to a hot and sticky summer so far.

But the humidity isn’t causing that sticky feeling, and it’s not tree sap either.

Entomologist Taz Stuart said Winnipeggers might be getting that sticky feeling due to honeydew from aphids.

“Lots of people equate the aphid honeydew or fecal matter to be synonymous with tree sap and it’s not, it’s actually their poop,” said Stuart.

He said over the past couple of years it has been hot and dry and that is the perfect weather for aphids.

“When the trees aren’t defoliated by cankerworms or other worms, you see aphid numbers increase substantially. This year seems to be a year where we are definitely getting more areas of the city that have elm trees in them, with a lot of the sticky substance.”

Stuart said the aphids stay on trees and feed on the sap and once that cycles through their system, it leads to the honeydew.

He noted that aphids also lay their eggs on tree leaves and rain is what washes those eggs away, so drier weather leads to more aphids.

Despite the increase in stickiness, Stuart said the alternative would be mosquitoes as they come along during the damp weather.

“It’s one or the other. Most people would be much more agitated if there were a lot more mosquitoes out there.”

If Winnipeggers want to try and control the aphids themselves, Stuart said people can pick off the leaves the aphids are on as they will see folded over portions and that is where the eggs are, or they can use a registered product and spray their trees.

Stuart is also reminding people to keep their vehicles clean if they are dealing with a lot of sticky stuff because if left on long enough, it could cause a problem.

“If you leave the sticky substance on the paint (of your car), it can over time almost get into the clear coat and leave almost like a pit.”

He said the best way to clean your vehicle is with soap and water.

If you don’t live in a neighbourhood with a lot of trees, specifically elm, Stuart said there is a good chance you might not even notice this problem.

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