- APHID BIOLOGY
- WHAT DO APHIDS LOOK LIKE?
- WHERE DO APHIDS COME FROM?
- HOW DO I KNOW WHICH TYPE OF APHID I HAVE IN MY GARDEN?
- APHID DAMAGE TO PLANTS
- HOW DO I KNOW IF I HAVE APHIDS
- HOW TO TREAT AN APHID INFESTATION
- ORGANIC APHID SPRAY FOR THE VEGETABLE GARDEN
- STRONGEST APHID SPRAY FOR THE VEGETABLE GARDEN
- LONGEST LASTING APHID SPRAY FOR THE GARDEN
- STRONGEST SPRAY FOR NON FRUIT BEARING TREES AND SHRUBS
- BEST SPRAYERS FOR TREATING APHIDS
- CONTACT US
Aphids are small insects which thrive on just about any plant. Any gardener or farmer knows what aphids are and may consider them their number one enemy. Also known as plant lice, these small but persistent insects seem to appear out of thin air and will encompass all the new green growth of any plant they can find. This article will detail the basic biology of aphids, explain why they are a pest and then offer a range of products we carry used to control any problem you might encounter.
This video shows a lone aphid walking about.
Aphids can be brown or black too. There are many variations in how they look too. This Wooly Adelgid is unique but still an aphid.
APHID BIOLOGY ^
Aphids are a common pest in gardens and nursery stock around homes and farms. In fact, they may be the number one pest in both sheer numbers and frequency of plants they will attack. Though there are hundreds of species of aphids, the purpose of this article is not to detail each specie but instead detail basic biology and then offer a range of control methods to eliminate an infestation.
The good news about aphids is we have effective products to control any problem you develop. The bad news is that aphids can be both persistent and quick to multiply – traits which make them a formidable foe.
WHAT DO APHIDS LOOK LIKE? ^
Aphids are a small insect which are not much larger than a grain of rice. There are hundreds of species distributed throughout the world and though most are plant or host specific, aphids are able to adapt their nutritional needs to take advantage of that which is abundant and available.
Aphids are generally green in color but can be clear, white, brown or black. In general, their color will match what it is they are eating.
WHERE DO APHIDS COME FROM? ^
Aphids overwinter as eggs and in the spring will hatch winged females that immediately search out a good food supply. Once they find a suitable host plant, they will lay eggs and move on searching for more food supplies. The eggs which are laid will hatch in a about a week.
Aphids have piercing, biting mouth-parts and will feed off the sap of plant life. Once they start to feed, this first batch of aphids will start to produce live young. This is done parthenogenetically which means they are able to produce live young without having to mate.
Live aphid young will begin to feed upon emerging from the females and within another week this batch will start producing more live young. Each adult can produce 50 – 100 live young which means that a few adult aphids can turn into several thousand in less than a month! All the young created will be wingless until the colony grows too large for the plant to support it’s food demand. At that time winged live ones will start to appear whose role is to leave their home colony seeking new plants on which to feed.
This sequence of events will play out over the course of the growing season and will only stop when the plant either dies or goes dormant for the winter. Plant life within growing zones which are active year round are susceptible to aphids year round; plant life which is growing for 6 months of the year can only have active aphids during this time. If the aphids food supply goes dormant for a winter season so to will the aphids. Just before they do so males will mate with females and the females will lay eggs just before death. These eggs will hatch in the following spring and this cycle will begin all over again.
HOW DO I KNOW WHICH TYPE OF APHID I HAVE IN MY GARDEN? ^
As the author stated above, the intention of this article is not to detail all the different species of aphids around the world. However, the more common species includes the Pea Aphid, Bean Aphid, Cotton Aphid, Melon Aphid, Cabbage Aphid, Mealy Plum Aphid, Grain Aphid, Rose Aphid, Peach Aphid, Corn Aphid, Alfalfa Aphid, Pine Aphid, Spruce Aphid, Grass Aphid, Oak Aphid, Wooly Adelgid and the Cactus Aphid.
Though many of these are specific to a certain tree or plant, it is generally accepted that most aphids will take advantage of any vulnerable food supply. In other words, Rose Aphids don’t mind eating birch tree leaves or Crepe Myrtle’s if that’s all they find. For this reason alone aphids are a pest which must not be ignored. If a region is having a local breakout of aphids, rest assured some will find their way onto any plants they smell so don’t think your plant is safe because it’s “not what they eat”.
APHID DAMAGE TO PLANTS ^
Aphids have piercing chewing mouth parts which enable them to feed off the sap or life blood of any plant. They are much like Fleas or Mosquitoes are to mammals; Aphids seek the blood of plant life and won’t stop feeding regardless of how much they hurt or stunt the plant. Fleas and mosquitoes seek the blood of pets and people; aphids seek the blood of your favorite Rose bush or garden vegetable! This behavior lends itself to many problems which stem from aphid populations which is why you should not allow them free roam or access to your plants. Here are some of the more important outcomes which result from aphid activity.
1) Aphids feeding will deplete the life blood of it’s host. This could mean death for any young developing plant. Aphids won’t control their behavior; instead they will eat till the plant dies and then move on. Though established trees and plants may be able to endure the initial sap and nutrition withdrawal from their system, it will none the less weaken them making them vulnerable to many other problems and diseases.
2) Aphids will cause leaves to curl up and die. Mal- nourished leaves won’t look right when they don’t receive the right amount of food and aphids feeding will steal away some of the plants vital nutrients needed by it’s growing foliage.
3) Damaged leaves don’t look good and may look bad all season but most importantly, they may not serve the plant well. Leaves which were designed to shelter and protect the plant from the hot summers sun won’t be able to do so when curled up and brown. This will put more stress on the plant making it vulnerable to other problems. Furthermore, some leaves will look bad all season long which takes away from the aesthetic value a healthy, well manicured landscape provides.
4) Aphids excrement is a material referred to as Honeydew. This excrement is highly nutritious which further documents the waste created by their activity. This honeydew will attract all kinds of other insects which will literally farm it as food for their developing colonies. More common insects that will take advantage of local aphid populations include ants and wasps. Once they start to prosper they will eventually become a problem in and around the home. A large percentage of the ant infestations we are called upon to resolve is due to the fact that the ants wanted to live there because the aphid population was so large providing good food at some time. However, when the aphids leave for new feeding areas, the ants are left to fend for themselves which is why the end up in the home. Controlling those aphids early on in the season would have prevented the ant infestations which were then able to develop.
5) This same Honeydew is both corrosive and fosters fungus. Cars, furniture and structures are all susceptible to the damage which honeydew will cause. This sap like gel will stain and mar the finish of cars, plastic and siding of homes and other buildings. Furthermore, the Honeydew will allow plant fungus to grow like sooty mold, leaf spot and more.
6) Aphids serve as vectors of disease and will readily transfer fungus and other pathogens from one tree or plant to another. Their biting and piercing mouth parts allow bacteria and other contaminates to be passed on which exposes the disease to new plants. Many of these plants cannot survive both the aphids feeding and these new diseases they must contend with which ultimately causes death.
Since Aphids are such a common pest found throughout the entire country, most people accept that they will have them at some point in time. Furthermore, they accept the damage the aphids will do and feel that this is part of having a garden and that there is nothing that can be done to stop them. This defeatist attitude is not a healthy one nor one which is in the best interest of any plant you are attempting to grow. Most importantly, there are many things that can be done both before and after aphid activity is present.
HOW DO I KNOW IF I HAVE APHIDS ^
Aphid problems can be detected early by installing APHID TRAPS around the yard. These traps feature a bright color that will attract females who are looking for somewhere to lay eggs. Set traps out on plants which you want to protect and foraging aphids will readily be lured onto the sticky glue. Be sure to monitor the traps by looking them over weekly. If any start catching aphids, you’d be wise to start treating as explained below.
Our traps come packed 4 to a pack and the glue will remain active for 60 days or more.
HOW TO TREAT AN APHID INFESTATION ^
Fortunately, aphids are easy to kill. That being said, they can be persistent. The key is to stay on top of the problem and to follow the guidelines we detail below no matter which product you choose to employ. And we have options for flowers, ground cover and even vegetable gardens.
ORGANIC APHID SPRAY FOR THE VEGETABLE GARDEN
If you are growing a fruit and/or vegetable garden and want to use an “organic” spray, we have two options that can control aphids.
The Multipurpose Insect Killer will provide a fast knockdown of all garden pests. Treatments will work immediately with aphids dying a few minutes after being sprayed. But since nothing can kill the developing eggs, plan on spraying once a week for at least 2 weeks (3 treatments total) to get rid of them food good.
Add 6.4 oz per gallon of water and plan on getting 500-750 sq/ft of plant foliage treated per mixed gallon. Multipurpose Insect Killer has one day to harvest which means its safe enough to use right up to the day before you harvest your fruits or vegetables.
Our 3 in 1 concentrate will perform almost as well as the Multipurpose Insect Killer. Its just a notch less strong but what it lacks in “punch” to kil aphids, it makes up for by including a good fungicide. So if your plants have been suffering with some related fungus or mold from the aphid activity, use this option.
Add 4-8 oz to a gallon of water to cover up to 500 sq/ft of plant foliage. Like the Multipurpose Insect Killer, you should plan on spraying weekly for the first 2 weeks (3 times total) to get rid of the current aphids and control the fungus.
STRONGEST APHID SPRAY FOR THE VEGETABLE GARDEN
If you want a more “traditional” product for the garden, we have a few options that work well. These can be safely used on plants that yield fruits and vegetables althought he “days to harvest” will typically be 7-14 days since these products last a lot longer compared to the organic options listed above.
The first is a 10% VEGETABLE GARDEN PERMETHRIN concentrate. This product is odorless, labeled for use on garden plants as well as animals and fast acting. Aphids will die off within a few minutes of being sprayed and treatments can last up to 2 weeks. But if you notice the aphids repopulating sooner, spray again.
Mix 1/2 oz per gallon of water and plan on getting 500-750 sq/ft of coverage per mixed gallon.
If you have a large garden to treat, CYONARA RTS might be better suited for your needs. It too is a sprayable concentrate but it comes in a handy “ready to spray” quart jug. Just hook it up to your garden hose, turn it on and your ready to go. It’s odorless, very effective against aphids and you get good coverage from each quart.
With this option, you don’t have to worry about mixing up the spray. As you “water” using the power of your garden hose, it will “suck” out the required concentrate thus delivering it at the proper rate as you spray.
Each jug can cover up to 16,000 sq/ft and it uses an odorless active that fast acting on aphids. Like the permethrin concentrate listed above, plan on spraying every 2 weeks to keep things under control but if the aphids come back sooner, spray as needed.
LONGEST LASTING APHID SPRAY FOR THE GARDEN ^
The longest lasting treatment for gardens is a systemic concentrate that uses imidocloprid for an active. Known as DOMINION FOR VEGETABLE GARDENS, this product should be used as a soil drench to treat around plants early in the growing season. Keep in mind this treatment will take a few weeks to be absorbed into mature plants but for young seedlings, it will grow into the foliage all season long. The net result is that any aphid or other chewing pest that attempts to feed on the plant will die.
Mix 1/2 oz per 32 oz of water and spray the ground around your plants covering 10 sq/ft. 2 oz per gallon of water will treat 40 sq/ft. So if you have a row of plants 20 feet long, plan on spraying the ground 1 foot wide and 20 feet long which is 20 sq/ft. This will require 1/2 gallon of mixed spray.
Each jug is 32 oz and will make up 16 gallons of mixed solution. This is enough to treat up to 640 sq/ft of soil.
Now if you treat early in the year, the active will last the entire growing season controlling aphids so you won’t have to worry about using any of the topical treatments above.
STRONGEST SPRAY FOR NON FRUIT BEARING TREES AND SHRUBS ^
For all other plants out in the yard like shrubs and trees, ADONIS is the best overall option. It can be used as a foliage spray and a systemic. Treatments can last up to a whole year so in general, if you spray in the spring, you shouldn’t get insects on the treated tree for the year. Adonis is a great “one spray” protection for most any plant in the yard. It uses a non repelling active so insects won’t know the active is present. Aphids will unknowingly land on the treated plant, start to feed and within a few days die.
Now if you treat mid or late season, you will get control of any current problem but it would be smart to apply more the following spring. Yards which develop pests like aphids have a tendency to have them return. Treat once a year with Adonis to ensure this doesn’t happen.
For spraying the affected plant foliage, mix .5 oz of Adonis per gallon of water and use the mixture over 1,000 sq/ft of surface area.
For systemic treatments, add .1 oz per inch of tree or hedge trunk thickness. So if you have a holly with 3 main trunks coming up from the base and each trunk is about 3″ wide, add 1 oz of Adonis in a 5 gallon plastic pail with 3-4 gallons water. Next, make 5-8 holes in the ground within 1-2 feet of the hedge. Use a piece of rebar or a pick axe to make the holes. Next, pour out the mixture of Adonis into the holes being sure to pour it slow enough so the material doesn’t run away from the plant. If done properly, the treatment will remain in the ground around the shrub where it will be absorbed in the coming weeks following the application.
BEST SPRAYERS FOR TREATING APHIDS ^
For most any small job (5 foot high or less trees and shrubs) can be handled using our standard PUMP SPRAYER.
When treating 5 or more trees or shrubs, our HOSE END SPRAYER will prove more efficient. It uses the power of your garden hose to spray which is generally 15-25 feet making it plenty powerful to get big jobs done quickly.
Lastly, if you need to reach up 25 feet or more, our TROMBONE SPRAYER can be useful. It relies on manual “power” to spray and draws the material from a holding tank like a 5 gallon bucket you’ll prepare to carry around. This sprayer is well suited for treating remote shrubs or trees where water is not accessible.
Make no mistake about aphids. They are a small and fragile insect which are easy to kill but due to their unique reproductive capabilities, aphids will present a persistent and annoying pest in the garden or general landscape. Their chewing and piercing mouthparts will cause stress and damage to plant life.
Remembe to that disease can be spread by aphids, their honeydew excretions will attract a lot of other insect pests in and around the home and weakened plants will become that much more susceptible to heat, drought and other stresses during the growing season. For all these reasons and more you need to address aphid infestations with the intent to eliminate and keep them away for good.
CONTACT US ^
Give us a call if you need further help. Our toll free is 1-800-877-7290 and we’re open Monday through Thursday, 8:00 AM to 7:00 PM. On Friday, 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM and on Saturday, 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM (Eastern Standard Time).
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