Aphids in Homes and Gardens

 What are Aphids?  

Aphids are soft-bodied insects with long slender mouth parts that enable them to devour leaves, stems, suck out fluids and other slender plant parts. Almost every plant is affected by one or two aphid species, which are usually fed on. It’s extremely difficult to distinguish one aphid species from another.

Aphids are also called ant crows, greenflies, and plant lice. Surely, aphids are serious plant pests, which may produce plant galls, as well as cause the deformation of flowers, buds, leaves and transmit plant viral diseases.

Once plants are infested by aphids, they’ll continue to extract the juice from the plants. Aphids do not attack plants singly, but in large numbers. They feed in groups known as colonies and appear in various colours. However, their dominant colours remain yellow, red, brown and black.

Aphids’ damage to plants is not easily noticed until there are a lot of them on the plant. They can reproduce asexually, faster than you can imagine. The hatching period takes a minimum of 7- 10 days under intense conditions.

Aphid’s feeding may not necessarily kill a mature plant, but more noticeable damage can be done to young plants that don’t have much foliage. In many occasions, aphids have been transmitting viral diseases between vegetables and landscape plants.

How to Identify Aphids

If you’re not really sure what aphids look like, then this short review will teach you how you can identify them. You can identify them based on the damage they have done to plants and on their appearances.

Soft-bodied in nature, aphids are about the size of a freckle (approximately one-tenth of an inch long). Their antennas have about six segments. Their caudal looks exactly like a small tail. Some aphids have wings, but not all of them does.

The Life Cycle of Aphids

The life cycle of an aphid is quite complex. Wingless females are known for reproducing during the

Black Aphids

                        Black Aphids

summer seasons without fertilization. This process is known as parthenogenesis. Aphids are known for surviving generations after generations, especially in wingless female cases. In some situations, during hot weathers, the host plant might die, leaving the wingless aphids no choice but to grow wings and fly off. Depending on the season, aphids tend to travel to various fruit trees.

During late summer, both male and female aphids can be produced. When they mate, the female will lay eggs which can survive all through the winter. Aphids are generally being controlled by natural enemies like lacewings, ladybird, beetles, traditional insecticides, horticultural oils, and insecticidal soaps.

Plant Damage

Aphids can be identified based on the damage they have done to your plants. If your plants are attacked by aphids, the leaves may become wilted or blistered, brown, curled, deformed, and yellow. The plant will start to grow slowly, and may have lower yields and subsequently, die.

Aphids excrete honeydew. Honeydew is a very small sticky and clear substance. If leaves are covered with honeydew, they will appear shiny and feel sticky. When the quality of food source deteriorates in a plant, they can disperse to other kinds of plants.

Unlike plant bugs and leaf hoppers, aphids feed on stems or leaves. Some aphids find it difficult to move when they are consistently disturbed.

Signs of Aphids Infestation

Aphid lifestyle

                                  Aphid lifestyle

Every plant, whether vegetables, shrubs, flowers or ornamental trees have at least one species of aphids that feed on it. If there are lots of aphids feeding on it, the leaves will turn yellow, curled or distorted. If you inspect the underside of the leaf, you will know the real aphid colony on the leaves.

Honeydew or sugary liquids released by aphids can inhibit photosynthesis from taking place. You can remove the sooty mold or black fungus which grows on the honeydew with a mild soap or a spray of water. Some botanists and medical researchers say that a spray of water may achieve more results than just a mild soap. Some substances present in soaps can harm the plants. Thus, this is why it is recommended that before you use any soap, you should test it on a small plant and inspect the results. All you need to do is to spray a small mixture on leaves and wait for 5-7 days to see if there will be any adverse reactions.