Root aphids harm plants, introduce more pests and fungus, and reproduce fast. Killing them off with pesticides works. But, this treatment can make the diseased plant’s ecosystem worse by killing off good bugs in the area.
There are several alternative natural methods for getting rid of a root aphid infestation without pesticides.
What Are Root Aphids?
Before diving into natural methods to kill root aphids, we need to identify these pests.
As the name suggests, root aphids are a species of aphid that feed on plant roots and plant’s stem (at the base). These pests have soft bodies and resemble a pear.
Depending on the type of plants these pests target they vary in color from light yellow and green to light pink to dark brown.
Root aphids reproduce fast, in the spring and summer, when the temperatures are warmer. These pests produce sexually and asexually. Newborn root aphid larvae are called nymphs.
Most root aphids don’t have wings, although winged ones do occur in the population. These flying aphids feed on plants above ground to spread the colony to more host plants.
Another distinct feature is the aphid’s mouthparts. The design of the Aphids mouth lets’ them pierce and suck nutrients from plants.
The aphids secrete a substance called honeydew that ants feed on.
NOTE: The presence of ants might indicate the presence of root aphids.
Honeydew excretion might also lead to the generation of black sooty mold, another source for plant decline.
What Damage Do Root Aphids Cause?
Root aphids cause different types of damage, depending on where they attack the plant.
A white, wax-like substance forms on the roots of the plant while the aphids feed. Aboveground, the aphid damage shows up on infested plants in the flowers and leaves.
Root aphids attack the roots of various plant types such as fruit and vegetables, flowers, and houseplants. For example, the rice root aphid attacks wheat, barley, and other grains.
Other aphids target plants like carrots, mint, lilies, sweet pea, strawberries, onions, and more.
Damage to plants includes wilting and the formation of spots on the plant. Sometimes these spots look like other plant diseases.
Root aphids attack outdoor crops and more delicate houseplants. The damage is very noticeable on the more aesthetically beautiful greenhouse or garden plant.
How To Get Rid of Aphids Naturally
Sometimes, root aphid presence is controlled through pesticides.
Depending on the host plant’s location and the surrounding ecosystem, the cons of pesticides outweigh the pros by harming other plants and insects.
Other than pesticides, getting rid of root aphids comes through:
- Crop rotation
- Natural weather patterns
- The introduction of aphid predators
Managing the plant placement and layout is one way to control the root aphid population.
To reduce root aphids:
- Remove weedy plants
- Grow some plants under a protective cover
Low temperatures and heavy rainfall are two natural ways to get rid of aphids.
Some root aphid species’ eggs overwinter, allowing the eggs to wait out the winter before emerging in the spring.
Since the aphid eggs can’t survive in the cold, exposure to cold weather helps reduce the presence of root aphids and their eggs.
Although you can’t control the rain, getting rid of root aphids is possible using a water source and…
- Making a soil root drench with Neem oil and drenching the root balls. More about drenching soil with Neem.
- Make a soapy soil drench with dawn dish soap to create a simple horticultural oil. The insecticidal soap solution also helps control fungus gnats.
- Sprinkle Diatomaceous Earth (Food Grade) around the plant and work it into the soil. Diatomaceous Earth also controls pests on potted plants.
Additionally, aphids have natural predators, such as some species of beetles, beneficial nematodes and parasitic wasps. The increased presence of these beneficial insects controls aphid populations without killing off other plants and good tiny garden bugs in the process.
Depending on the climate of your greenhouse, garden, or home, a combination of these treatments should reduce the influx of root aphids.