Aphids, you hate them! But the question is – How to get rid of aphids? These sap-sucking plant pests found on house and landscape plants go by other names as well:
- Plant Lice
- Plant Louse
- Whiteflies – different than true whiteflies
The Common Names of Insects Database at the Entomological Society of America website entsoc.org lists over 100 different species along with their more common names.
Plants even get Aphids attached to their name like the:
- Wooly Aphid or Wooly Apple Aphid
- Red Aphid
- Milkweed Aphid
- Russian Wheat Aphid
- Oleander Aphid
- Hibiscus Aphid
- Potato Aphid (Macrosiphum euphorbiae)
- Benchmade Aphid
- Black Bean Aphid
- Soybean Aphid
- Cabbage Aphid (Brevicoryne brassicae)
- Cotton Aphid
- Green Peach Aphid (Myzus persicae) is known as greenfly in Europe and found distributed over the United States and Canada. Abundant on fruit trees and vegetables. It is common on many ornamentals, including Asters, Calendulas, Carnations, Chrysanthemums, Dahlias, Irises, Lilies, Poppies, Snapdragons, Primroses, Tulips, and Verbenas.
- Pea Aphid
- Melon Aphid (Aphidius colemani)
- Cherry Oat Aphid (Rhopalosiphum padi)
What Color Are Aphids?
With numerous species, one picture of an aphid may look different than another.
These small and tiny (size-wise about 1/8 of an inch and oval in shape), lice-like insects, with pear-shaped bodies and long antennae come in a variety of colors: light green, pink, white aphids, brown, red aphids, yellow-gray, gray, and black aphids.
Where Do Aphids Live?
You’ll find aphids of all kinds living on the young, tender tips of new developing growth, on the undersides of leaves, and clustered or in colonies on stems. There are even root aphids. By the way, it is possible to get rid of root aphids naturally.
TIP: These garden pests are most active during springtime as temperatures warm and new tender growth emerges.
Some aphids live only on one host plant. Others will thrive on many different garden plants.
For example, Macrosiphum rosae aphids on roses while cinara aphids feed and live on conifer and cypress trees.
All come equipped with delicate, tuber-like piercing, sap-sucking mouth parts. These small sap-sucking insect pests pierce through the outer tissues of the plant.
They suck out and ingest the fluids and plant sap juices which are full of nutrients from new tender growth and stems. The feeding aphids distorts new growth, like the aphids on Desert roses that sometimes cause leaves to curl and leave a sticky residue on plant leaves.
This deprives the plant of the fuel and nutrition it needs to survive and thrive. As a result, plants lack vigor and stunted growth. In addition to depleting a plant’s resources, aphids also carry viruses.
These viruses can infect plants and can wipe out entire crops. Grains, potatoes (potato leafroll virus) and citrus fruits are especially susceptible to viruses carried by aphids.
Related Reading: Control Aphids on Succulents
Aphids live and work in colonies, are usually wingless and easy to control. Winged aphids can cause a real problem since they can spread so rapidly within days.
Even though aphids multiply rapidly, they move slowly from plant to plant. They like anything green.
Life Cycle Of Aphids
According to the University Of California, aphids have many generations a year. Adult females give birth to live offspring without mating and bypass the egg stage known as parthenogenesis,
Young aphids called nymphs, molt, shed their skin about four times before becoming adults. In some cases, aphids lay these eggs on an alternative host plant, usually a perennial plant, for winter survival.
When the weather is warm, many species of aphids can develop from newborn nymph to reproducing adult in seven to eight days.
Because each female adult aphid can produce 12 offspring per day up to 80 offspring in a matter of a week, aphid populations can increase rapidly.
You can control “all” aphid species without much difficulty.
A good contact insecticide chemical like (Malathion, horticultural oil) or a natural organic Neem oil aphid spray will kill them on contact.
When insecticides come in contact with the pest it will kill aphids by stopping or blocking the breathing pores.
To get rid of aphids, you may need to repeat applications three times to kill the aphid eggs as they hatch. Keep your eyes peeled, as eggs are airborne, you may need to re-apply treatments.
Related: Best Time (of Day) To Spray Aphids
If a commercial insecticidal solution is not available, try a simple “homemade Castile soap aphid spray” – 3-4 tablespoons of liquid soap (like castile soap) per gallon of water and apply as a foliar spray to your plant.
Make sure to spray the underside of the leaves as well thoroughly. Soap is effective in managing aphids, safe for people and the environment.
However, I like all-natural Neem Oil which I’ve found very effective in controlling aphids.
Keep on the lookout for ants. Aphids and ants go together. Aphids excrete a sweet sticky substance known as honeydew. Ants are attracted to this and will keep aphids as “livestock” to maintain a steady supply of honeydew.
Aphid honeydew not collected by ants tends to accumulate on the plant surface causing a “black sooty mold fungus” and a barrier to sunlight.
This interferes with photosynthesis and further compromises your plants’ health and ability to survive.
Is It Possible To Eliminate Aphids?
To eliminate aphids completely, you would need to broadcast poison all over your garden. This would be detrimental to beneficial fauna, natural predators, and you.
Instead of doing away with them altogether, it is preferable to keep your aphid population under control.
This is a project you must stay on top of because aphids reproduce quickly if left unchecked.
However, for more advanced infestations, certain essential oils, neem extract, solutions of insecticidal soaps, or even plain old soap and water may do the trick.
Read More on: Killing Aphids With Soap Water