Aphids On Japanese Maples: A Complete Treatment Manual

When it comes to decorating the garden landscape, Japanese maples are at the top of the list. However, these beauties are very susceptible to many pest infestations.

On the other hand, aphids are the kinds of pests that you will find attacking every kind of plant and sadly our Japanese maples are no exception. You see, the aphids love to suck on the Japanese maple leaves and cause them to turn yellow, brown, and crinkle.

So, when the aphids infest, it’s very important to take action as soon as possible otherwise your Japanese maple tree can be very weak and become susceptible to other deadly diseases as well. 

Now, the best way you can deal with them is by taking a combination of some physical activities along with some chemical control methods together. 

There is no need to get confused about this because In this article I am going to talk about everything you need to know about the aphid attacks including–

  • How do they look like 
  • Why you should get rid of them
  • What damage do they cause
  • How to remove the aphids on Japanese maples &
  • How to prevent their attack 

So let’s get down to business – How to Get Rid Of Aphids From Japanese Maple Tree

How To Identify The Aphids?

Aphids have very small and pear-shaped bodies but if you look closely at the leaves, especially on the underside they can be detected by the naked eye. They are usually found in many colors including red, brown, black, and white but for the Japanese maples, they are usually green or yellowish in color. 

One thing is that they are very clingy in nature so if you try to knock them down or shake the leaves, most of them will remain right there without even moving. 

Spring and summer season is the time when the Japanese maples are most susceptible to aphid attack, especially when they are growing new leaves. So, one needs to be more observant during this period. However, they can infest during any time of the year too. 

Why Are Aphids So Troublesome?

First of all, aphids are very tiny so most of the time their attack goes unnoticed at the initial stage. In addition, they are very soft-bodied and have a brownish-to-greenish color that helps them to disguise and hide under the leaves. 

Next thing, they have a great ability to reproduce so their population grows very fast and this is how they attack in huge numbers and cause a lot of damage to the leaves. 

Besides, they can fly to any nearby plant which makes their removal more complicated. More importantly, they are the vectors of a handful of deadly viral diseases like a mosaic virus which stunts the growth of the tree and makes a mottled appearance on the leaves.

A number of predators like ladybugs, parasitic wasps, lacewings, etc. are the natural enemies of aphids.  But since the ants feed on the honeydew secreted by the aphids, they repel these predatory insects and keep the aphids safe. So, in order to get rid of the aphids you have to keep the ants in check also. 

How Do The Aphids Cause Damage?

Since aphids are a very common insect of most plants, they can get their way into your Japanese maple through winds, contaminated soil, birds, humans, or other animals. They can also fly from another nearby plant that was already infested by them. 

They mainly cause damage to the leaves because they suck the juice out of them. As a result, the leaves become curled and turn yellow at the points of their feeding. If there’s severe infestation then the leaves start to drop.

They can even deform the young flowers and buds and a severe infestation can cause the young maple tree to be stunted.

Besides, the aphids secrete one kind of sticky juice from their body which they lay over the leaves as they move. So the leaf surface becomes sticky and a kind of mold grows over them which is usually called black sooty mold. 

This black mold makes an ugly appearance on the leaves and also reduces light penetration. As a result, the leaves fail to make enough food through photosynthesis and the whole Japanese maple becomes very weak.

Even the ants are also attracted by the honeydew and this makes the situation even messier. However, the aphids don’t usually kill the plants but they ruin their appearance of it. 

How To Control The Aphids?

You have to keep an eye on your Japanese maples frequently, especially during the active growing seasons of spring and summer. You can use a magnifying glass to see the underside of the leaves.

Also, you can put a sheet of white paper under a branch and try to tap on the branch a bit harder to knock over some of them. As they will fall onto the paper you can get an idea of the number of aphids on your tree. 

To get rid of these aphids, give your Japanese maple a strong spray of cold water to wash them off from the tree. This will keep the pests in check for some time but remember that the water will not work as a permanent repellant and they can attack again from any neighboring trees. 

So, if you are looking for permanent relief from them or there is a severe infestation, you have to use a systemic insecticide that is suitable for trees and shrubs and also has good coverage. Make sure to follow the instructions on the insecticide packages very thoroughly and spray on both sides of the leaves. (Our pick: Monterey LG 6145 70% Neem Oil Ready-To-Spray Insecticide, Miticide, & Fungicide)

Since they mostly suck from the underside of the leaves, it’s important to spray evenly on the underside as well. You can also use some beneficial insects that are commercially available to lower the aphid population naturally.

When some particular branches of your Japanese maple have too many aphids on them, pruning off that branch is the best option. Make sure you don’t overfeed your Japanese maple because extra fertilizer encourages new shoots and leaf growth which attracts more aphids.

To see the aphid control measures in a more practical way, here’s a video for you to have a quick watch:

Aside from using chemical insecticides, you can also use homemade natural pest killers. The recipe is given below–

  • Recipe: Horticultural oil Insecticide spray recipe:


  • 300 ml of cooking oil
  • A tablespoon of mild liquid soap


  • Mix the oil and liquid soap very thoroughly
  • You can use an electric blender also to mix them up more easily
  • Now you can pour this solution into a tightly capped bottle for several uses
  • Whenever you need to use it, take a tablespoon of this mixture and mix it with 2 cups of water and pour it into the sprayer
  • Spray on both sides of the Japanese maple twice a week as long as the aphids are there
  • This homemade insecticide is very effective against the aphids as it kills them as well as repels them from attacking again
  • So, you can definitely use this as a preventive measure by spraying once every week

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Does baking soda prevent aphids?

Baking soda is also very effective in killing aphids. Moreover, it’s equally effective against whiteflies and spider mites as well. Mix a teaspoon of baking soda in a liter of lukewarm water. You can also add a few drops of liquid soap to it. After that, you can spray it on your Japanese maples.

Can I spray aphids with vinegar?

Vinegar can kill aphids too. It has acetic acid which is harmful to aphids. For this, you can mix equal parts of water and vinegar together and spray it on your Japanese maples to kill the aphids

Is Neem Oil Safe For The Japanese Maple?

Neem oil is very effective at killing aphids and other pests. However, Japanese maples are very susceptible to neem oil and it can cause injury to their leaves.


Getting rid of the aphids is necessary as they can cause serious damage to the tree but one has to remember that the process of removal should not create even more problems for your Japanese maples. 

So, a gardener has to take a few coordinated steps that will efficiently remove the aphids from the Japanese maples. For this, use alternate combinations of chemical insecticide and homemade remedies on a regular basis and follow the other physical methods whenever it feels convenient. 

Aside from that, always keep your Japanese maples in check so that you can get rid of the aphids when the infestation is at the initial stage..

I hope this article has helped you to treat the aphids on your Japanese maple and kept it healthy and beautiful. 

James Rivenburg
James Rivenburg
James Rivenburg

James Rivenburg is the founder of plantandpest.com, a passionate gardener with valuable experience and knowledge gained through trial and error. The website has a large community of followers who trust his tips and techniques and have succeeded with his advice. He is always Committed to helping others create a beautiful and healthy garden.

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