Saturday, April 1, 2023 Apr 1, 2023
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Nature & Environment

The Gross Truth About That Sticky Stuff Under Your Pecan Tree

You're not going to like what I have to tell you.
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Last night I went to the 40th anniversary celebration of the Texas Trees Foundation, at Pegasus Park. Congrats to the head tree hugger, Janette Monear, and her staff.

At the gig, I ran into Matt Grubisich, who used to work at TTF and who headed up the first comprehensive study of Dallas’ tree canopy. About six years ago, when I had to take down a huge silver maple on my property, I asked Grubisich for advice on what to plant in its place. That was the last time I had talked to him. At the TTF party, when I shook his hand, Grubisich asked, “How’s that red leaf maple doing?”

I can’t remember what I ate for dinner last night, so it blew my mind that he could recall what sort of tree I wound up planting years ago. Grubisich is now the director of parks for the city of Garland. I texted him this morning to say that on my bike ride to work, I was still marveling at his memory. He wrote back, “LOL, I usually remember the tree but not always the person.”

And then, because I had his attention, I asked him about something that has piqued my curiosity for the past month or so. I wondered about it again this morning on my bike ride, as I rolled under one pecan tree after another and picked up a thin layer of sticky gunk on my tires, which then adhered to bits of leaves and dirt. This stuff is everywhere right now, wherever a pecan tree stands. What gives? Are the trees raining sap? Why don’t I recall this ever happening before?

Here’s what Grubisich wrote back: “It’s aphid dew. The hot summer, followed by heavy rain, then back to hot and dry led to a huge aphid issue this year. The ones on pecans are yellow aphids. They get them every year, but this year they are way worse, which is why you are noticing them more. They suck on tree leaves and excrete what you are seeing. Essentially it’s aphid poo!”

Aphid shit, y’all. When you take your dog out for a walk tomorrow morning and you hear your sneakers sticking to the sidewalk, that’s what you’re traipsing through (and tracking back into your house). You’ve been warned.


Tim Rogers

Tim Rogers

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Tim is the editor of D Magazine, where he has worked since 2001. He won a National Magazine Award in…

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