Aphids

May 17, 2010 at 8:22 pm Leave a comment

Plants are susceptible to attack from a variety of insect pests, and none does more damage than aphids.  Now you are probably wondering what aphids are and what sort of damage they create?  Aphids are small pear-shaped insects (usually green but can be other colours as well) that obtain their food by sucking the sap out of various species of plants.  These insects form dense colonies and besides feeding off of plant sap also eat the stems, bark, roots, and fruit.  Signs of plant damage by aphids include reduced growth, wilted leaves, and stunted needles.  Aphids produce a substance called honeydew (derived from eating plant sap), and is a favourite food source for ants which protect aphids just to obtain this sweet fluid.   Excess honeydew drops onto parked cars and sidewalks below if located under the host tree.

What is their life cycle?  Aphids spend the winter as eggs on the host plant, and hatch the following spring.  Newly hatched nymphs develop into wingless adult females and give birth to live young without mating.  Adults can give birth to live young throughout the summer months increasing the population in a short period of time.  In the fall, winged males are produced which mate with the remaining females.  Eggs produced as a result of this mating spend the winter on the host plant and the cycle begins again the following spring (Montreal Botanical Garden, 2010).

What plants are considered hosts? Aphids can affect a wide variety of plants such as vegetables, annuals, and perennials.  Flowering shrubs such as roses, viburnum, and snowball bush can be affected.  Many species of trees also can fall to an aphid infestation (i.e. apple, pear, birch, elm, maple, and oak) (McGill University, 2010).

How do you control aphids? Attract beneficial insects and other predators such as ladybugs into your garden by planting a wide variety of plants (i.e. tansy, marigold, and calendula).  Remove weeds often from your garden beds because most weeds serve as hosts for aphids.  Aphids can be removed by spraying water on the leaves and stems of infected plants (may have to be repeated as required).  If these methods of control prove to be ineffective, insecticidal soap can be sprayed on the aphids (Always read the label first as some plants are harmed by insecticidal soap).  There are more methods of control available please check out the references below for further information on aphids and aphid control.

References

Ecological Agriculture Projects at McGill University “Aphids” http://eap.mcgill.ca/PCA_2.htm

Accessed on May 12, 2010

Montreal Botanical Garden “Aphids”  http://www2.ville.montreal.qc.ca/jardin2/voirRavageurEN.do?idMaladie=15&chercher=Aphids&start=0 Accessed on May 12, 2010

Nova Scotia’s Environment and Labour “Garden Aphid Prevention and Control”

http://www.gov.ns.ca/nse/pests/docs/aphid.pdf Accessed on May 12, 2010

Toronto Botanical Garden “Aphids” http://www.torontobotanicalgarden.ca/mastergardener/PDFs/Aphids.pdf

Accessed on May 12, 2010.

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Entry filed under: Bugs, Pests. Tags: , .

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