Aphid Control: How to Identify, Prevent and Get Rid of Aphids

Aphids are small insects with a soft body and they thrive almost anywhere, regardless of the climate and zone where you live. In most cases, their length does not go above ¼ inch, which makes them difficult to spot in the garden. They have a pear-looking body, soft antennae, wooly coating, and are available in a wide range of colors.

Generally, adult aphids do not have wings, but in some instances, they develop wings especially when they live in colonies. This allows the aphid to transfer to other plants through flying, and in turn, they will start a new colony.

There are several types of aphids that are available, although they are almost all similar in terms of the results of infestation. Their names vary depending on which plant you can find them. Some of the most popular include melon aphids, cabbage aphids, bean aphids, and potato aphids…

Kinds of Aphids

Several Types of Aphids

Aphid’s Habitat

Aphids can survive in almost any part of the plant, such as the fruit, buds, flowers, stems, and leaves. They eat plant sap and they excrete it in the form of honeydew, which, in turn, produces a black mold that covers some parts of the plant.

They appear early in the season and usually the first ones that can damage house plants. This is because they love the plants while they are tender. Its infestation starts when aphids with wing reach the plant. Within one week, they produce up to 60 offspring. It multiplies quickly and before you know it, they will already cause significant plant damage.

Identifying Aphid Damage

Plants Affected

Aphids can affect many plants, especially vegetables and ornamental plants. They thrive in different plants depending on the specific type of the pest. Bean aphid, for instance, lives in legumes and woody ornamentals. Meanwhile, you can find green peach aphid in spinach, cucumber, lettuce, carrots, corn, and plum. For potato aphid, they are common not only in potato, but even lettuce, tomato, and spinach. They also affect common fruit trees, including prune, apple, pear, and cotoneaster, among others.

Symptoms

When it comes to the symptoms of the appearance of aphids, the following are some of the things that can happen:

  • The most common is the appearance of a sticky substance in the plant. This is honeydew. Overtime, it turns to black. Especially for the leaves, they can develop black spots.
  • If the infestation is already large, the leaves will turn curly and yellowish. This is one of the most common indications that you should immediately look for the best control and elimination solutions.
  • Another common symptom is the unusual appearance of ants surrounding the plant where aphids are also present. This is because honeydew is high in sugar and hence, it is natural that it attracts ants.
  • Young shoots and flowers also easily distort. They do not grow fully because they already die.

Results of Infestation

Once aphids are already present, aside from the symptoms we have noted above, the following things happen as a result of infestation. They are all detrimental in more ways than one, regardless of the specific type that is present. They lead into yellowing of leaves or wilting of the plant in general. Because of the transmission of the virus, leading to loss of nutrients, and eventually, the plant will die. For larger plants, on the other hand, they are more tolerant to the damages. This means that they can survive, but it is inevitable that its parts will show signs of damage.

Aphids Symptoms

Aphids Damage Leaves Parasite Pest

How to Get Rid of Aphids

Regardless of where aphids appear, the following are some of the most effective solutions you might want to consider.

Organic and Natural Solutions

The following are some of the best natural solutions to try:

  • One of the simplest solutions is spraying cold water. In some instances, aphids only need to be cooled down to get out of the leaves or the plant.
  • Encouraging the growth of natural predators is an equally effective solution. Lacewings and lady beetles are some of the perfect examples of the latter. You might also want to have bug-eating birds in the garden.
  • Dilute neem oil in water and spray it directly over the plant. It repels not only aphids, but other pests as well. Almost any essential oil will probably deliver the same benefit.
  • Cleaning the garden bed is also a good solution. When they do not have wings, they can spread on the ground. The presence of weeds helps to prevent the invasion of aphids. Also, remove any plant with visible signs of infestation or disease before the problem spreads to the healthy plants in the garden.
  • It will also help to plant the right crop in the garden. There are sacrificial plants that will help to control and eliminate aphids, such as nasturtiums naturally.
  • There are also insecticidal soaps that you can use. They contain potassium salt, which weakens the outer shell of the aphids, causing it to die eventually.
  • Using flour seems like a crazy idea, but it is also effective, simply dust it on the top of the plant. This leads to the constipation of aphids.

Chemical Solutions

The most common chemicals are insecticides that contain deltamethrin and lambda-cyhalothrin. They deliver a high level of effectiveness, but only if you spray it directly on the aphids. This is challenging because of the small size of the pest and in most cases, they are invisible to the naked eye. Thiacloprid is another chemical control that is promising, which you need to apply directly to the leaves.

However, take note that as much as possible, stay away from using chemicals in plants. They have toxins that will not only kill the insects, but also damages the plant in the long run. They are harmful even to animals who get in contact with the plant. These chemicals are also toxic to the environment.

How to Prevent Aphids

As they say, prevention is better than cure. With this, the following are some of the things to do to prevent the presence of aphids in the garden:

  • Companion planting will help. Some of the plants you need to have in the garden include catnip, garlic, and chives.
  • It is also best to have herbs with a strong smell, such as oregano, green onions, garlic, chives, basil, and sage. Their strong scent helps to deter the presence of aphids.
  • Avoid over-feeding your plants. Adding too much fertilizer, for instance, encourages the plants to be sappy, which attracts aphids.
  • Check your plants all the time. If you believe that aphids are already affecting the plant, take advantage of the various control measures or get rid of the plant with significant damage.
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