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Elaeagnus sucker, or psyllid, is a species of insect closely related to aphids. They feed in the same way, by sucking the sap from plant leaves. They are also referred to as 'jumping plant lice'; because they have long hind legs that they used to jump from leaf to leaf, similar to a leafhopper. These suckers are an invasive species which reached UK shores in 2002. Following their arrival, there were huge population bouts, and now these insects are widespread across Britain. Today, these insects are less common than once thought, which suggests natural enemies have been keeping them level.
Suckers are a food source for predatory insects, like parasitoid wasps.
Sucker insects produce honeydew as a byproduct of feeding. This sticky secretion encourages the growth of black sooty mould.
Adults are tiny brown insects, possessing one pair of wings that have distinctive tan markings towards the wingtips. Nymphs appear similar, however, are smaller and flatter, appearing a creamy-brown colour. The nymphs lack wings and instead have undeveloped wing plates which look like two stumpy circular and slightly hairy disks on the insects back, or thorax. Leaves become covered with copious amounts of honeydew. This makes the infected site prone to build-ups of black mould.
Leaves of plants which are infected begin to curl at the margins. Adult feeding results in tiny, pale spots dotted all over the leaf. Leaves may be covered in sticky clear honeydew, or, possibly a black sooty mould. Although unattractive, these insects will not be detrimental to the plant and are tolerable.
These insects originated in Japan. It's likely they were transported to the UK on a shipping import from Asia.
If infestations are heavy, it's advised to pick off infected leaves. Use these pests to attract natural enemies to your garden, such as hoverfly larvae. Organic pesticides containing natural pyrethrum can be effective against suckers; these must be applied on the infected site over a series of applications. Please read the instructions before use.
If the plant in question is used for ornamental purposes, then consult with your nearest garden centre on what will be the best course of action. Please research all options before applying any product. Insecticides typically have a non-selective mode of action, meaning anything the chemical comes in contact with will be affected.