Aphids

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Aphids multiply quickly, can survive in almost any temperature zone, and, therefore, are found to be destructive to plants in most gardens. Although aphids populate quickly, they move slowly and it is possible to control aphids before they reproduce.

HOW DO I KNOW IF I HAVE APHIDS?

There are several ways to identify aphids in your garden:

  • Check for misshapen, curling, stunted or yellow leaves on your plants. Also, check the undersides of plants because aphids like hidden places.

  • The leaves or stems on plants might be covered with a sticky substance that indicates aphids may be sipping sap.

  • You might also notice the presence of ants because ants and other insects are attracted to aphids’ waste – a sugary substance that is also called honeydew.

  • The honeydew can also develop a fungal growth (called sooty mold). This causes branches and leaves to look black.

  •  Aphids can feed on flowers and fruit which can then appear to be distorted.

  • The sticky substance from aphids might also be noticed on garden ornaments or other items that are in the garden.

What do Aphids look like?

  • Aphids are difficult to spot with the naked eye because they are tiny (under ¼ inch).

  • Aphids have pear-shaped bodies with long antennae. Most species have cornicles which are two short tubes projecting from their hind end.

  • Different species of aphids appear in a variety of colors – white, black, brown, gray, yellow, light green, and pink.

  • Some aphids have a coating that looks waxy or wooly.

Are Aphids dangerous?

  • No. Although rare, some of the larger species of aphids are reported to bite people in nature, however, typically aphids do not harm humans.

  • Also, diseases or parasites are not transferred from aphids to humans.

Can my house or plants be damaged by Aphids?

  • Aphids are attracted to gardens rather than homes, therefore, the damage will be found to plants.

  • Although aphids can affect the appearance of plants, trees, shrubs, and other foliage, aphids typically will not seriously harm plants, if they are healthy.

  • An aphid infestation may cause affected leaves to wilt, turn yellow, and drop prematurely.

  • Aphids can also feed on flower buds and fruit causing them to appear distorted.

  • Aphids may attract other insects, such as ants, that can also damage.

Why are Aphids in my garden?

  • Aphids are looking for food as they feed on fruit and plants. Aphids are also attracted trees and shrubs.

What do Aphids eat?

  • Adult aphids and nymphs eat plant juices by attacking leaves, stems, buds, flowers, fruit, and possibly roots.

  • Different species of aphids feed on different plants. The names given to different species can be correlated with their feeding, for example, bean aphids, cabbage aphids, tomato aphids, melon aphids, woolly

    apple aphids, etc.

What is the lifecycle of Aphids?

  • Aphids live a few weeks to a few months.

  • Aphids are highly prolific and can produce many generations each year.

  • It takes about eight days for an aphid to reach adulthood.

  • Aphids have an unusual reproduction cycle. Female aphids can produce daughters without mating, so populations can grow quickly.

  • In the fall, females lay black eggs with thick shells mainly on trees.

  • Female aphid eggs can withstand extreme temperatures so they remain in egg form during the winter.

  • In the spring, the eggs hatch into female wingless nymphs that give birth to live aphids without mating (no males are hatched).

  • Finally, some aphids develop into males and sexual reproduction begins.

  • It is possible for one aphid to have about 80 children each week.

6 interesting facts about Aphids:

  • There are over 4000 species and varieties of aphids.

  • Ants may become caregivers to aphids. There are aphid-herding ants that take care of their “adopted” aphids by carrying them from plant to plant in order to “milk” them for their honeydew substance. Some aphid-herding ants even take their aphids home to their ant nests during the winter month so they are safe until spring.

  • Aphids have many predators and some species use alarm pheromones to alert other aphids in the area when they are under attack by predators. The aphids being attacked release chemical signals from its cornicles that alert nearby aphids to run for cover.

  • Aphids can “kick box” with their hind feet challenging their predators by going on the offensive. Sometimes they go after the predator’s eggs and other times they simply stop and drop from their host plant to escape their predators.

  • Female aphids are parthenogenetic and capable of virgin births without males. Female aphids may carry developing young aphids which are already themselves carrying developing young aphids. This process shortens the reproduction cycle and quickly increases their numbers.

  • For protection, aphids may select soldier nymphs to protect the group. The female soldiers do not molt into adulthood and sacrifice themselves as needed to protect other aphids.