Many people have noticed a black, sooty coating on the needles of pine trees this fall and winter. It is especially noticeable on white and scotch pines.

The black coating is caused by a fungus called sooty mold. It does no harm to the needles but is quite unsightly.

The real problem was an insect infestation last summer. Sooty mold is associated with large populations of sucking insects such as aphids, scale or mealybugs. As these insects feed on the sap of plants, their sugary droppings land on needles or leaves below. Sooty mold grows on the droppings.

To avoid sooty mold, control the insects. They cause the true problem.

 

Note: We have provided some general information and observations on this topic aimed at the home gardener. Before you take any serious action in your landscape, check with your state's land grant university's Cooperative Extension Service for the most current, appropriate, localized recommendations.

 

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