Parking under Trees

Avoid parking under 'sticky' trees

One of the most common tree questions received by relates to "stuff" dripping from a tree onto a car.

Writers want to know what it is, why it is happening and what they should do about it. The short answer is not to park under any trees with an insect problems.

It sure is great to be able to park your car, truck or SUV under a nice big shade tree on a hot summer day to keep it cool. That way the vehicle and steering wheel isn't sweltering hot when you prepare to go someplace. However, if that tree is infested with insects, the sticky droppings onto your vehicle's finish may not be worth that extra coolness when it comes time to wash it.

Green aphids on a shrub.
Aphids come in different colors.

It is my suspicion that most of these complaints result from the work of aphids which are also known as 'plant lice.' These small insects behave like little vampires, drawing sap out of tree leaves.


Plus the aphids have some great help. Ants work in harmony with them in a symbiotic relationship, acting as 'farmers' by moving them to the best feeding sites which are usually the tender growing tips of branches.


Aphids draw-out more tree sap (Honeydew) than they need, so what isn't harvested by the ants ends up dripping onto vehicles parked beneath the tree. This will be most common during the summer when the trees are in full leaf.

Honeydew attracts bees

Signs of aphid activity:

  • Ants travelling up & down a tree trunk
  • Bee activity around the leaves
  • Blackened leaves with sooty mold

Scale insect activity on Magnolia

Mid to late summer is also a season to watch parking under trees with dropping berries or fruit. And of course birds can mark a car parked in the wrong place at the wrong time.

So watch where you park!


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