Last updated: November 18, 2021

What Does Honeydew Mean?

Honeydew is a sticky secretion that is produced by some scale insects, some moths, certain caterpillar species, a few types of butterflies, and aphids via their anus. It is referred to as ‘honeydew’ because it is sweet and high in sugar content.

The secretions are favored by ant colonies that often feed and aid aphids or scales by defending them from predators in order to gather their honeydew secretions as a source of food for the ant colony. Some birds, lizards, wasps, and honeybees also enjoy dining on honeydew secretions.


Maximum Yield Explains Honeydew

Gardeners often don’t even realize they have a pest problem until they notice the sticky honeydew substance on the leaves and stems of their plants. Often the clear sticky excretions on the plant’s surface are also accompanied by an abundance of black or sooty mold growth.

The feeding insects suck the plant’s sugary sap by using their sharp mouths to pierce the plant’s surface and gain access to the sap. New plant growth is especially appetizing to sap-sucking insects because it is tender and easily pierced by their mouths. What the sucking insect’s body does not use is excreted as insect excrement known as honeydew because of its high sugar content.

The honeydew secretions left behind by pests do not harm the plant and are actually beneficial to many other feeding insects that pose no harm to plants. However, honeydew on a plant is a sign that the plant is under attack by sap-sucking pests. Over time, the constant consumption of the plant’s sap by voracious sucking insects will considerably weaken, stung, deform, or kill the plant.


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