Aphids are small, pear shaped insects ranging in size from 1 to 10mm. They have long antennae and soft, translucent bodies which are usually green, yellow, white or reddish brown in color.
Symptoms and Damage:
The damage caused by aphids is characteristic of sap-sucking insects including leaf damage such as deformation, discoloration and leaf drop. Aphids also excrete honey dew (aphid waste) in the form of a sticky clear resin on which sooty mold fungus will grow. The fungus can effectively block out the sun’s rays adding a serious issue to a plant that is already being fed upon by insects.
Habitat and Life Cycle:
The life cycle of aphids is complex in the outdoors involving egg laying on a perennial plant to survive winter then hatching as nymphs, which feed on the plant where they are hatched in the spring. These quickly become female only adults which develop wings to fly to a summer feeding area to return to the over wintering area in the fall. Because aphids can grow from nymph to reproducing adults in only a weeks’ time and because of the large number of eggs each female can lay aphid populations can grow very quickly.
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Prevention and Control of Aphids
There are many benefits to avoiding chemicals when dealing with insect invaders. The harsh chemicals in some insecticides may cause more harm to an already injured plant not to mention the possible harmful effects to you or your loved ones.
✔– First choices for attempting insect control.
✔– Used when green don't solve the issue.
✔– Only use when blue options have failed and the plant cannot be discarded.
Prevention✔– Is the key to making plant care easy and should always be your first defense. Keep window and door screens in good shape, especially near house plants and remember to inspect the stems, leaves and soil of any potential new additions to your plant collection. Regular plant grooming and maintenance is the best defense against aphids.
Manual✔- Sometimes all that's needed is a strong blast of water to wash away some aphids; you can also try vacuuming the plant with a dust buster or weak vacuum. Be careful with delicate and sensitive plants.
Biological✔- The only biological controls currently in use are only really suitable for green house applications
Organic✔- Tomato Leaf Spray, Garlic Oil Spray, or Neem Oil Spray offer terrific results. Just remember to test which ever you choose to use on a small area of the plant first to be sure it doesn't cause any damage.
Chemical✔- Sprays such as Bonide Pyrethrin can be used with some success but because aphids may be in areas such crevices or curled leaves thorough applications are needed. Systemic insecticides are absorbed by the plant allowing the poison to get directly into the insects stomach resulting in very effective control.
More information on Aphids:
Controlling Aphids - http://www.vegetablegardener.com/controlling-aphids-in-your-garden
Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aphid
Ecological Agricultural Project - http://www.greenhousecanada.com/content/view/1286/