Many Central Texans may find themselves bustling into area car washes to clean off the sticky mess that’s coating vehicles.
The brown drippings from trees looks like sap, but it actually comes from billions of tiny bugs called aphids. Their numbers normally peak at this time of year, but recent rain has brought an explosion of the sap suckers.
"It's sticking on to everything, my garbage cans, the sidewalk, the cars," car wash customer Don Theiss said.
Walker Hale is an entomologist for a local pest control company. He links the aphid invasion in part to the drought.
"A plant that's in stress tends to have more insect problems and aphids are just one of those," Hale said. "Basically, they're sucking sap or juices from a plant."
While the honeydew makes your car ugly, it won't hurts the finish as long as you wash it off every now and then.
"It's not harmful in and of itself but if left on a vehicle it could certainly harden. It could potentially damage paint," Hale said. "As far as a plant goes, it's covering the leaves of the plants as well. It is not harmful, but it tends to promote a process--sooty mold. And that mold can potentially further weaken a plant."
One way to fight the Aphid invaders is with a good blast from your garden hose every few days to knock the bugs off the leaves. More serious infestations can be handled with soap-based pesticides.
The aphid outbreak should end as the weather turns cooler.