‘Tis the season for messy cars: spring pollen, spring mud, and sometimes stranger things. If you park your car outside in the shade of a tree, you may come back to find it speckled and spattered with drops of a sticky, clear liquid that’s hard to wipe off. In fact, the longer it stays on your car, the harder it will be to scrub it away.
This substance is actually a byproduct of insects called aphids, which feed on plant and tree sap and excrete anything they can’t digest. This mix of sugars and other waste is called honeydew. Fortunately, most of the same methods that clean tree and plant sap from your car will also remove honeydew: baby oil or mineral oil, rubbing alcohol, or any of the assortment of wax and grease cleaners sold by auto shops. Apply the cleaner to the honeydew-coated surface, give it a few minutes to work, and scrub it off with a soft rag; you may have to repeat this process a few times. If the honeydew has been left on the car long enough for sooty mold to start growing, you should also wash with dishwashing liquid (hand-washing dish soap, not soaps for automatic dishwashers).
Unfortunately, honeydew isn’t just an annoying daily drip of sticky stuff on your car: it’s also a symptom of a variety of infestations in your tree, often aphids (scale insects are also common this season). This can weaken or kill it over time, and the infestation may spread to more sensitive plants in your yard. If you suspect that one or more of your trees is infested with aphids, consider consulting an arborist to discuss treatment. Call 404-CUT-TREE for advice or to schedule a visit.For more information, check out the Clemson University Extension Service web site: