Hackberry Psyllids - Austin
Photo credit: Robert Webster / xpda.com / CC-BY-SA-4.0
Are you seeing a large number of small “jumping” insects gathering on your siding, windows or front doors?

If you have hackberry trees in your yard or Austin neighborhood these are likely “hackberry psyllids.” They resemble miniature cicadas and are particularly abundant in late summer and fall, especially on warm days.

The insects are attracted to lights at night and, at about 3/16″ long, are small enough to get through some window screens.

While they may look like gnats, flies or fleas, they usually are the psyllids (pronounced sill-ids). They are in the same family as cicadas, hence the resemblance when seen up close such as in this photo.

They can also be referred to as “hackberry gall psyllids.” A gall is simply an abnormal plant growth and can be caused by a variety of things including insects, fungi, bacteria or viruses. The good news, for your plant or tree anyway, is that the galls are not typically harmful. They’re simply a place for the insect to feed, lay eggs and develop.

Once developed and off the tree, they start looking for any spaces they can find and squeeze into that allows them to avoid winter’s upcoming cold temperatures. Often this is under tree bark, but they aren’t particular and will find any potential warm location. That’s why you’ll see them landing on screens, doors, siding and homes when looking for an overwintering spot.

Thankfully, other than being annoying, they are not harmful to people or pets and don’t attack house plants they same way they would feed on hackberry leaves. And as temperatures continue to drop, their activity will decrease.

You can hose them off the siding, or mix up a soapy water spray to handle them on screens or doors. They really don’t require a full pest control treatment, since they are not long lasting and not harmful.

If you have other more significant pest control needs, call us at 512-443-0123 or fill out our online form for a fast service quote.