Aphids are tiny insects that live near our homes and seem to have a way of finding their way into our gardens. Almost naked to the human eye, these little guys can wreak havoc on plants and crops rather quickly and get out of hand before we even know it! Ask any avid gardener you know, and we’ll bet they will tell you they’ve battled these pests more than a time or two. Small populations of aphids aren’t a major problem, but if they are left alone to breed they will take over your garden or crops and likely destroy what you’ve worked so hard to accomplish. It’s important to get aphid populations under control before they have a chance to breed. Wingless female aphids are asexual, so they breed rapidly without needing help from their male counterparts. This gives them an advantage when it comes to multiplying.
Aphid Species Identification
Most aphids are pear shaped and are soft bodied. They are smaller than ¼ of an inch and can be green, pink, nude, black, brown, white and have two little antennas that stick up just above their eyes. Some even have a wooly, or waxy coating on their little bodies. They have elongated mouths that they use to suck the sap and honeydew from plants and crops. Their legs are long and skinny, and they have two little claws where their feet would be. Most of them are wingless.
Are Aphids Harmful?
Aphids are some of the most destructive pests for farmers and gardeners alike. They destroy plants and crops by sucking the sap out of them and spread diseases to the plants they feed off of. After they digest the juices from the plants they have fed off of, they excrete a sticky “honeydew” type substance which attracts other garden insects. Anywhere you find aphids, you are likely to find ants along side them. Ants are known to act as shepherds to aphids, protecting them so they can feed off of the honeydew they produce and bring it back to their colonies.
Signs of Aphid Infestations
When in question, always check the underside of leaves on the plants you are checking, this is an aphid’s choice spot. Check your plants for curling, misshaped, yellowing leaves that look like they are dying. If you notice a sticky substance on the stems or leaves of your plants, this is a tell-tale sign that aphids are near and have been sucking the sap from that plant. This is the honeydew they leave behind after a meal. This sticky substance can also drip onto vehicles, driveways or patio furnishings if they have made their way onto your trees. The honeydew they leave behind can turn into a moldy looking fungus that makes plants appear as if they are turning black.
Controlling Aphid populations can prove to be rather difficult. Many farmers and gardeners often turn to other insects to control populations of aphids. Some of the insects that feed on aphids are ladybugs, parasitic wasps, crab spiders and a few others. Many times, this proves unsuccessful in open environments because the pests they bring in to destroy the aphids usually migrate before the job is done. There are insecticides that work well in controlling aphid populations, but a few other effective methods are spraying soapy water on the affected plants or installing water jets around the plants in question. Winged females are produced late in breeding season and will almost always migrate to new plants to quickly reproduce and return to the plant they first lived on making their presence difficult to eradicate. Stewart Termite and Pest Control has effective methods at controlling aphid populations. Give us a call today.