Oct 17, 2022 - News

What you need to know about that sticky goo covering Texas

A small yellow bug on something green

This little guy has been pooping all over the place recently. Photo: Auscape/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

That sticky residue covering your car or sidewalk or the soles of your shoes over the last few weeks? It isn't sap.

The big picture: It's actually … well, that's insect poop. More specifically, it's aphid excretion.

Catch up quick: A lot of Texans (and news outlets) have noticed an increase in the amount of sticky gunk beneath Texas trees this year. That icky substance is called honeydew, a sugary liquid excreted by aphids, an insect the size of a pinhead that feeds on tree leaves.

What's happening: The insects are found on many plants but are especially noticeable on pecan trees and crepe myrtles in Texas.

  • And there's a whole ecosystem around this. Ants love to snack on the honeydew, so they rub the backs of aphids to stimulate the insect to excrete a droplet.

Between the lines: The insects arrived later than usual this year due to the record-breaking drought, but their population has exploded per the Dallas Morning News.

  • The bugs have fewer predators this year, too, another result of the drought.

Yes, but: Natural predators like ladybugs can be released into a backyard to eat the aphids.

  • Rain also helps wash away the honeydew.

Of note: Honeydew won't kill your trees, but it's a pain, and it often leads to sooty mold growing on the top of the dew.

  • That fungus blocks sunlight from getting to tree leaves and slows its growth.

What they're saying: They're insects, so they don't speak English. But horticulturists have been going nuts dealing with their excretions.

  • "The entire state is covered in goo," Texas gardening expert Neil Sperry recently wrote in his newsletter. "Frankly, it's getting on my nerves."

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