Getting Rid of Aphids

By DoMyOwn staff

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What Do Aphids Look Like?

Aphids are small, pear-shaped insects with long legs and antennae, also known as plant lice. They may be green, yellow, brown, red, or black, depending on the species and the plants they feed on.  A few species appear waxy or woolly.  Aphids have a pair of tube-like structures called cornicles projecting backwards out of the hind end of their bodies. Adult aphids are typically wingless, though there is a brief period in the life cycle when they may also appear winged. Aphids are slow moving and usually feed in dense groups on plants leaves or stems.

Aphid Control Products

Aphid Life Cycle 

Adult aphid females give birth to as many as 12 live offspring per day. When the climate is warm, an aphid can develop from newborn nymph to reproducing adult in 7 to 8 days. This pattern gives way to multiple generations in a month and swiftly increasing populations.

What Does Aphid Damage Look Like?

  • Aphids cause damage to plants by using their piercing-sucking mouthparts to suck out plant juices and plant cell material. In mass number aphids remove large quantities of sap which results in stunted plant growth and curled, puckered or yellowed leaves.

  • Some aphid species may also produce galls (growths on irritated parts of plants) on stems and roots.

  • When aphids take in more sap than they are able to use, the excess is excreted onto the plant as a clear, sticky substance known as honeydew. Mold or fungus can grow on the honeydew, retarding plant growth and attracting other insects such as ants and flies.

If you not sure that aphids are causing the damage, try the following:
  Use a sheet of white paper or a white cloth. Hold below leaves and strike the foliage sharply. Insects crawling on the plant will fall onto the paper or cloth and can easily then be identified or observed with a magnifying glass.

For Aphid Prevention: 
Always use a slow release fertilizer, as aphids are more attracted to the abundance of new foliage found on over fertilized plants.  Where possible, growing plants inside or under cover until they are stronger is also a good idea.

How To Get Rid of Aphids

Aphid treatments should be done in the earliest stage possible of infestation. During the warm months, you might save yourself from a great deal of plant damage by weekly inspecting the undersides of a few leaves per plant and stems for any aphid activity.

For existing aphid infestations:

1.  Hose down infested plants and trees with a strong spray of water several times a week to dislodge a significant number of aphids.

2.  Aphids tend to cluster together in big feeding groups. Some sections of plant with especially dense aphid populations can simply be cut away with shears in order to slow the infestation.

3.  Grow plants that aphids love to lure them away from the plants you are trying to save. Some aphid favorites include nasturtiums, asters, mums, cosmos, hollyhocks, larkspur, tuberous begonias, verbena, dahlias, and zinnias. These can provide great organic control.

3.  Use Talstar or Bifen IT. Mix ¼ oz to ½ oz of product with one gallon of water in a hand pump sprayer. Spray plant to the point of runoff paying special attention to the underside of leaves and all parts of the branches where aphids are known to harbor. Be sure to inspect plants often (especially new growth) and reapply insecticide if you notice a reinfestation.

 *If you are unsure what time of year aphids generally become a problem in your area please contact your local Cooperative Extension Office. Prevention and early detection are key to a successful aphid management program.

Aphid Control Products:
Bifen IT
hand pump sprayer

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