How To Get Rid Of White Aphids

Professional and home gardeners are aware of the many garden pests that can attack their plants. White aphids are one pest that can cause damage in large numbers. 

Many species of aphids feast on the plant juices of a wide variety of plants. Aphid colonies can cause minor to major problems.

White aphids close up on leavesPin
White aphids up close | singjai-Adobe

Aphids are tiny, sap-sucking creatures. Gardeners can control and get rid of aphids by understanding what they are and how they behave.

Some, such as the green peach aphid, feed on a variety of plants, while others, such as the rosy apple aphid, focus on one or just a few plant hosts.

Some aphids overwinter as eggs, such as the mealy plum aphid on plums. Sooty mold growing on honeydew produced by the hackberry woolly aphid. 

Similar to true aphids, they have white waxy strands covering their pear-shaped bodies. All aphids have cornicles, but some are smaller and less obvious. 

In general, aphid feeding will not seriously harm healthy, established trees and shrubs, but high populations of herbaceous plants can be a significant problem.

Sooty mold is a fungus that grows on honeydew and is often found on trees with aphids. The fungus is not harmful to the tree but can cause dark, fuzzy splotches on leaves and branches.

Different Species of Aphids

Aphids usually feed in large groups, although you might occasionally see them singly or in small numbers. 

Although aphids are generally present at non-injurious levels on most plants, large numbers of aphids can reduce plants’ growth rate or vigor from excessive sap removal.

While aphids, in general, feed on a wide variety of plants, different species of aphids can be specific to certain plants. 

Mature aphids can be wingless or can have wings. Winged aphids are similar in color but are a little darker. 

Are aphids white? Yes, some species of aphids are white in color, such as tiny white aphids.

Immature aphids (nymphs) look like adults but are smaller. The best way to identify aphids is to check for two tailpipes (cornicles) found at the end of the abdomen.

For example, some species include bean aphids, cabbage aphids, potato aphids, green peach aphids, melon aphids, and woolly apple aphids.

  • Cabbage aphids (Brevicoryne brassicae) feed only on cruciferous plants like cabbage and mustard. They are green with a waxy covering that gives them a grayish-white appearance.
  • The potato aphid (Macrosiphum euphorbiae) begins as black eggs on rose plants, which hatch into pink and green young that feed on rosebuds and leaves.
  • The green peach aphid (Myzus persicae), also called the spinach aphid, is pale yellow-green with three dark lines on the back.
  • The melon, or cotton, aphid (Aphis gossypii) is green to black. In warm climates, live young are produced all year, while in cooler areas there is an egg stage.
  • The woolly apple aphid (Eriosoma lanigerum) lives on roots and may stunt or kill apple trees. White cottony masses enclose the young aphids. It is controlled by parasites.
  • The rose aphid (Macrosiphum rosae) is large and green with black appendages and pink markings. It is common on its only host, the cultivated rose.

What Are White Aphids?

A white aphid is one of many aphid species in the family. They are tiny, soft-bodied, pear-shaped insects and like to feed on tender, new plant growth.

Gardeners find these white insects on plants, dining together on the underside of leaves and new growth. An aphid uses its sucking mouthparts to puncture and suck out nutrient-rich sap from a plant.

If you notice little white bugs on outdoor plants or tiny white bugs on plants indoors, they may be white aphids.

Aphids on plants can cause major damage if left unchecked. While aphid feeding will not seriously harm healthy, established trees and shrubs, high populations of herbaceous plants can be a significant problem.

White aphids do not discriminate between indoor and outdoor plants. The life cycle of aphids is complex and varies with each species.

Related: Learn more about Aphids on Hibiscus

They become a problem because of the speed at which they grow and reproduce. A female aphid gives birth to live young.

What do baby aphids look like?

Baby aphids, also known as nymphs, can vary in appearance depending on the species, but generally, they resemble smaller versions of adult aphids and have similar body shapes.

They have soft, oval-shaped bodies and are usually green or yellow in color.

Some species of aphids may have wing buds, which are small protrusions on their upper back that eventually develop into wings.

Aphids use slender needle-like mouthparts to feed on plant sap from plants. They gather where they can feed on new succulent growth on unopened flower buds, the underside of young leaves, and developing stems, twigs, bark, and roots.

In weeks, the young can mature and begin to reproduce. Aphid eggs can also overwinter in the soil.

Aphids are tiny and blend in well with plant foliage. Outward signs of an aphid infestation include:

  • Deformed flowers
  • Damaged fruit
  • Curled yellow leaves

What Damage Do White Aphids Cause?

White aphids on plants can reproduce multiple generations in one year. The speed at which female aphids reproduce is why gardeners must act fast to avoid damaging their plants.

Aphid eggs on leaves can also be found, leading to a new generation.

The new aphids will develop wings in adulthood after one to two generations on the primary host. In late summer or early fall, another generation of winged females is produced on the secondary hosts.

For most of the summer, wingless females give birth to live young instead of laying eggs.

Females lay white aphid eggs that live through the winter on the plant. In the spring, the eggs hatch, and new female aphids feed and reproduce.

Some aphids can transmit plant viruses. This is a particular problem on soft fruits, such as strawberries and raspberry, and some vegetables, such as tomatoes and plants of the cucumber/marrow family, as well as on some ornamental plants, such as dahlias, lilies, pelargoniums, tulips, and sweet peas.

Plant aphids white are not attracted to only plants that bear fruit. They like certain types of flowers, such as zinnias, dahlias, cosmos, and aster, which are beautiful flowers to add to a flower garden. However, they can also host these little white bugs on plants.

But these plants are also aphid trappers. Aphids enjoy sucking the rich nectar these flowers produce.

An aphid infestation can cause deformed flowers, curled leaves, and a lackluster look.

Vegetable and fruit gardeners should also look out for small white bugs on plants, as white aphids on plants do not usually cause significant damage unless their numbers increase.

With a high aphid infestation, a vegetable plant can experience irreparable damage.

Aphids can cause the leaves of a healthy plant to curl and turn yellow. Eventually, these leaves will fall off.

Plants will then spend more energy growing new foliage than fruit. Plants producing fruit will begin to produce deformed fruits and vegetables.

Having an aphid infestation can also leave room for other problems.

White aphids carry bacteria and viruses distributed to other plants as they move around and pierce the plant.

An aphid infestation is very likely if you see an abundance of ants. Aphids release a sticky substance called honeydew, and ants love it.

Related: Learn of the Relationship Between Aphids and Ants

Ants cause damage by chewing on the stem and leaves of a play for the honeydew. But they also deter predatory insects from helping you combat an aphid issue.

White aphids treatment is essential to minimize their damage.

How to Control a White Aphid Infestation?

So, how to get rid of white aphids on plants?

The good news is that there are effective ways to get rid of aphids and control their populations in your garden.

There are natural organic aphid controls and chemical methods to choose from for every type of gardener.

The first step to controlling an aphid population is through prevention. The most critical nutrient a plant requires is nitrogen. This nutrient is part of the chlorophyll, which aids in photosynthesis.

Be careful, though. Too much nitrogen could be an open door for aphids to come through. A healthy plant can fight off the pests’ battle. 

Aphids have many natural enemies that help reduce their numbers. Lady beetles, lacewing larvae, syrphid fly larvae, and parasitic wasps are natural enemies of aphids commonly found in gardens.

Many other insecticides are available to control aphids in the home garden and landscape, including foliar-applied formulations of malathion, permethrin, and acephate (nonfood crops only).

To control little white aphids on houseplants or little white bugs on outdoor plants, insecticidal soap, horticultural oil, and pyrethrins can be effective at controlling aphids, but mild infestations can be washed off of plants with a steady spray of water from a garden hose.

Organic Aphid Control

If aphids are causing problems, and it is necessary to treat them, you may want to consider using insecticides. Examine the bud area and undersides of the new leaves for clusters or colonies of small aphids. 

Since aphids are soft-bodied insects and easy to control with a simple soapy water garden spray, white aphids treatment with natural options is useful. Mix 1 tablespoon of Dawn liquid dish soap or castile soap in a quart of water for a soapy insect spray.

Related: Is Vinegar a Good Aphid Killing Solution?

Once you spot aphids on your plants, use a garden hose with a blast of water to knock them off the plant. Try spraying infested plants with a strong stream of water; sometimes, all aphids need is a blast to dislodge them.

However, imidacloprid and dinotefuran are very toxic to pollinators. Either avoid applying these insecticides to bee-attractive plants or wait until the plants have finished blooming before treating them.

However, Imidacloprid can have negative impacts on predators, parasitoids, and pollinators, so its use should be avoided where soaps and oils will provide adequate control.

Don’t forget to wash the aphid honeydew excrement on the foliage. Don’t use too much water pressure, and beat up your plants!

If you spot white eggs on plants, remove the affected parts of the plant or introduce beneficial insects onto the plant to manage the infestation.

Consider using natural aphid predators or beneficial insects, like ladybugs and green lacewings, to help control aphid insect populations.

Companion Planting

Companion planting is also an excellent preventative measure for small white aphids on plants.

Add color to your garden and attract more natural predators by planting clover, mint, dill, yarrow, and fennel.

Use plants to your advantage by planting catnip, garlic, allium, chive, and onion – they are natural aphid repellents.

Plant a decoy or trap crop like Nasturtium or calendula. A trap crop helps control aphids by attracting the aphid population to the sacrificial plant.

If your aphid population continues to increase, apply a Neem oil spray or a mixture of essential oils and water.

The organic compounds in neem oil act as a repellent for aphids and other insects, including mealybugs, cabbage worms, beetles, leafminers, ants, and various types of caterpillars.

However, it may repel beneficial insects, so use caution when and where they are present.

To make an essential oil spray, use four to five drops of peppermint, clove, rosemary, and thyme. Mix with water in a spray bottle and apply to all plant surfaces.

Chemical pesticides can also be used for aphid control. For best results, use an insecticidal soap or oil.

If using chemical sprays:

  • Make sure to get thorough coverage
  • Do not apply in hot temperatures
  • Follow the labeled instructions

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