AUSTIN (KXAN) — A sticky, clear substance has started to cling to objects across Central Texas, but what is it?
“It’s just a sticky, yuckiness,” said Wizzie Brown, an entomologist with Texas A&M’s Agrilife Extension.
If your car looks like it’s covered with clear sticky droplets — you’ve got honeydew.
“If you’re standing under the tree and you feel like it’s raining on you. You’re actually being — I guess —peed or pooped on,” added Brown. Gross, yes, but scientifically accurate.
What is honeydew?
This honeydew is a sugary waste product of aphid insects called “phloem feeders” that are basically eating from broadleaf trees, like pecans, to get the “tree juice.”
“There’s a whole bunch of different hoppers like leaf hoppers, treehoppers, plant hoppers, all of those are phloem-feeding insects and are capable of producing honeydew,” Brown said.
The summer drought stressed our trees, but recent rains have helped them to push out more leaves.
The stressed trees are more vulnerable to these insects that also appear to be around in greater numbers this year, contributing to the widespread reports of honeydew here in Central Texas but also in the Dallas area and down in San Antonio.
How do I get rid of honeydew?
Using a hose to wash your trees helps reduce the insect population, and a simple hosing of water should “melt the sugar” off whatever it’s sticking to.
But don’t wait to wash it off, the honeydew will harden if left alone — making it more difficult to clean.
The honeydew also attracts ants who love to eat it and while we wouldn’t suggest you do the same…
According to Brown, “the Greeks and Romans and stuff. They used to feed on honeydew because it was a sugary, sweet substance and kind of nectar of the gods because it’s falling from the sky.”
That’s one way to look at it.