Q:

What causes the white, fuzzy texture on beech trees?

A:

Quick Answer

Beech trees that seem to have a white, fuzzy texture are likely infested with the beech blight aphid. This is a small insect with a white, fluffy body that may give the tree's branches and leaves the appearance of having a light, wooly texture. Though this aphid may appear on any part of the tree, they tend to appear mostly on the tree's branches because they drink the tree's sap rather than feeding off the leaves.

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Full Answer

The presence of beech blight aphids in a beech tree is often indicated not only by their characteristic appearance but also by their production of euphemistically named excrement called honeydew, which can drip onto leaves and other parts of the tree and eventually develop a gray, powdery mold.

Though they do feed on sap, the beech blight aphid has been known to form colonies on the underside of beech leaves as well as on branches and trunks. Underneath their white, fuzzy outer layer, which actually consists of filaments rather than hair, the aphids are actually a darker bluish color. Though their appearance is dramatic and the black sooty mold that their honeydew attracts may look unsightly, beech blight aphids are not, as their name may imply, much of a threat to beech trees.

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