- Colour Pale green, black, red, or cloudy white
- Size From 4 mm to 8 mm long
- Also known as Plant lice
- Description Tiny, soft bodied, pear-shaped pests. Some have wings, others do not.
How to identify Aphids
Aphids are tiny insects measuring 4 to 8 mm in length with soft, pear shaped bodies. Their colour can vary from pale green, black, red, or cloudy white. Depending on the season, these pear-shaped pests may be winged or wingless.
Signs of an infestation
Aphids often cause leaves to spot, yellow, curl, or wilt. Galls may also form on plant stems and branches. Check the undersides of leaves, the tips of branches, or new plant growth to find aphids. In addition, gardeners can look on the soil under infested plants for aphids’ cast-off skins, which look like small white flakes.
Adding plants that repel the pests, such as coriander, basil, catnip, chives, and dill, is another way to help protect at-risk gardens. Sweet alyssum, yarrow, or herbs in the carrot family can also attract helpful bugs like lady beetles, lacewings, and flies that eat aphids. For the most effective and reliable solutions, contact local pest professionals.
There are appropriately registered and labeled insecticides for controlling these pests. If they have invaded an indoor structure, you should consult a professional, licensed pest control provider to control the infestation. For outdoor plant infestations, you can consult your local garden centre.
How to prevent Aphids from invading
Inspect plants and cut flowers prior to bringing them indoors, Check the undersides of leaves, Inspect branches and new growth periodically, Look on the soil for cast-off skins, Repair door and window screens, Install weather stripping, Add plants that repel aphids
Habitat, Diet, and Life Cycle
Aphids can be found throughout North America. While they attack many plant species, common hosts include the coniferous and deciduous trees that grow across Canada. Aphids live on or near the plants they eat and collect under leaves and sheltered areas.
Aphids feed on plant sap. They pierce leaves and stem surfaces and suck up the sap (juice) from the plants. They can feed on any part of a plant but they prefer new plant growths. As they feed, aphids produce a sweet, sticky substance known as honeydew which attracts ants and other insects to the plant; it can also cause fungal growth on the plant surfaces, which is detrimental to the plant. Since they often feed in large groups, aphid infestations can quickly destroy gardens and flowerbeds.
Aphids have a complex reproductive cycle. The first aphids of the year hatch from eggs during the spring. This generation of females reproduces through self-cloning until their host plant is crowded. The next generation develops with wings and flies off to find another plant. At the end of summer, all aphids return to their original host to lay eggs for the next year. While they may only live for one to six weeks, each female aphid can produce as many as 12 young per day.
Commonly Asked Questions
How worried should I be about aphids?
Aphids wreak more damage on cultivated plants than any other insect, causing stunted growth, low crop yields, and even plant death. They often feed in large groups, so an aphid infestation can quickly destroy gardens and flower beds.
As well, when aphids feed, they produce honeydew, a sweet, sticky substance which attracts ants and other insects to the plant, and can also cause fungal growth detrimental to the plant. This honeydew is also smeared on sidewalks, cars, or other objects under their feeding area.
Aphids can reproduce in huge numbers, through a complex reproductive cycle that begins in spring, when a generation of wingless female aphids hatch from eggs on a host plant. They self-clone until the plant is crowded. The next generation develops wings and spreads to another plants.
At the end of summer, all aphids return to their original host plant to lay eggs for the following year. While female aphids may only live for up to six weeks, each female aphid can produce as many as 12 young per day, or more than 500 young in her lifetime.
To tackle aphids, try adding plants that repel them, like coriander, basil, catnip, chives, and dill. Sweet alyssum, yarrow, or herbs in the carrot family can also attract helpful bugs like lady beetles, lacewings, and flies that eat aphids.
However, if your aphid infestation is not eliminated, you may need the help of a professional pest control service to effectively manage and control them using various strategies.
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