What is infesting my Sambucus

by Ann
(Deal, Dover, England)

Sambucus covered in Aphids

Sambucus covered in Aphids

Hi again Jacki. I'm now addicted to coming to you as my first stop with my plant problems. We live in South-East England and I inherited a beautiful Sambucus when we moved into our existing house. We pruned it earlier this year but now it is about to flower I've noticed it is thick with some sort of bug. I don't really like using chemicals so I would appreciate if you can tell me whether these insects will harm my plant or if I can safely leave them there.

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May 14, 2022
by: Jacki Cammidge, Certified Horticulturist

Those are aphids, which do transmit viruses, and do drain the plant, but they are super useful food source for many insects and birds if you can stand to leave them. Sambucus as a rule is a tough, resilient plant so a few bugs probably won't kill them. I've seen infestations like this where the stems are totally covered, then some other predator finds them and gobbles them up, for lunch, and they're gone for good.

However, sometimes, wasps farm them, coddling them and them moving them to new plants. If this is happening, get rid of them.

Spray them with a strong jet of water. This blasts them off, and they leave their mouth parts behind. Gross, I know, but this prevents them from re-attaching.

If you have fish, scoop them off and drop them into the water.

Don't feel you have to use some kind of chemical to poison them. Let nature take its course, or help it by some mechanical means.

Glad you're asking me these questions! So many websites immediately go to recommending horrible poisons for simple problems that require simple, non-polluting solutions.

May 15, 2022
Thank you
by: OP

Thank you once again, Jacki. Good news that I can feed the local wildlife without lifting a finger! I've not seen any wasps near the plant so, at the moment, that doesn't seem to be a problem.

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