Where Do Aphids Come From
Stunted plant growth and distorted leaves are the most common signs of aphid infestations. Aphids infest both landscapes and gardens, but what are they and where do they come from? Let us find out.
What are Aphids and Where Do They Come From
Aphids are soft-bodied, pear-shaped insects that belong to the Aphidoidea superfamily. Various species of aphids can appear light green, white, pink, black, gray, brown or yellow. Most species have cornicles, the two short tubes that protrude from their rear end.
By understanding the life cycles of aphids, you will be able to eliminate them properly and permanently. That way, you can implement the best pest control methods to prevent the female aphids from multiplying.
The life cycles of aphids consist of the eggs, the nymphal stage, and the adult aphids. The nymphs or young aphids become adults after moulting several times. Some females can produce up to 80 live offspring in a week during summer and spring. That is why they can quickly infest plants.
Female aphids are also capable of producing eggs asexually. In other words, they do not have to mate with males to lay eggs. During the fall season, male aphids’ mate with female aphids to start a new generation that will survive the winter and hatch the following spring.
But where do aphids come from? They usually come from places they have been overwintering like the crevices in stems and underside of leaves.
Aphids can also find their way into your plants through newly purchased houseplants, contaminated soil and flying aphids that enter your house through open windows. That is why you should always inspect plants before you bring them inside your house.
Check the stems and leaves of the plant for small crawling aphids. You should also consider repotting new houseplants in sterile potting mixes since females can deposit eggs in the soil. Get rid of the old soil because eggs may be lurking there. Replace the potting mix to prevent aphids from infesting your indoor plants.
Aphids cause significant damage to outdoor and indoor plants. Their feeding habits can leave behind crinkled leaves and distorted fruits or flowers. They can also stunt plant growth and cause the plant to die eventually.
Healthy plants have more resistance against aphids. However, if you leave the aphid population alone and let it grow, these sap-sucking insects will weaken your plants and make them susceptible to various diseases. Once the host plant becomes too crowded, they will move to another plant and start a new colony there. Here are the most common signs of aphid damage on plants.
Honeydew may not be harmful to plants, but it can attract ants and other insects that cause plant damage. The ants protect the aphids from natural predators such as lacewings and ladybugs.
Aphids suck nutrients from plants, starving the leaves and causing them to dry up, lose their colour and fall prematurely.
Sooty mould is a dark-coloured fungus that grows on plants that are covered with honeydew. The mould inhibits photosynthesis, preventing the plant from making food.
Gall formations are abnormal growths on roots, leaves, flowers, or twigs. These formations may not be harmful to plants, but they are unsightly.
Aphids inject toxins into plant tissues when they are feeding. The toxins cause leaves to curl.
How to Remove Aphids
If you want to get rid of aphids, you should start by isolating the infested plants to avoid further infestation. Do not forget to check the leaves and stems for plant damage. You should also prune the heavily infested parts. Treat the damaged plant with natural aphid control methods while they are being isolated. Here are other ways to remove aphids from plants.
Wash infested plants
Wash the infested plants with water to dislodge the aphids. The water pressure should be enough to remove the nymphs and adults from your plants. If the plants have delicate foliage, you can dip them in a pail of water to remove the aphids.
Spray plants with an alcohol solution
Rubbing alcohol, also called Isopropyl alcohol or isopropanol, works well against aphids. Grain alcohol or ethanol seems to offer the best results. Just make sure that the alcohol you are using does not contain additives.
To make a DIY aphid spray, combine equal parts water and 70% alcohol. If you are using 95% alcohol, combine 1.5 parts water and 1 part alcohol. You can also mix 1 tbsp. of liquid soap, 5 cups of water and 2 cups of alcohol to make your aphid spray more effective against aphids.
Since some plants are extremely sensitive to soap and alcohol, you should test the solution on a small portion of your plants first. Watch the plants for several days.
Some soaps also contain additives that can harm plants, so choose only the purest option. You can apply more if the plants do not show any adverse reaction to the solution.
Use neem oil
Insecticidal soaps, horticultural oils and neem oil can kill aphids by disrupting their reproductive system. You can make your aphid control spray by mixing 1 quart of lukewarm water, 2 tsp. of neem oil and 1 tsp. of Castile soap.
Spray plants with the solution to control aphid infestations. You must apply neem oil regularly to get rid of aphids permanently. The best thing about this neem oil spray is that it has residual effects, so it will continue to kill aphids after application.
You can also spray neem oil on roses and other flowering plants that are infested with aphids. Neem oil is safe to use on edible plants like tomatoes and peppers. Since it is a natural pesticide, it will not harm beneficial insects as well.
Use neem oil or an alcohol solution to get rid of aphid eggs that may be hiding in the crevices of stems or undersides of leaves. You can also release beneficial insects in your garden that feed on aphids.
You can use these methods to kill aphids, but the best way to deal with these insects is to prevent them from gaining access to your plants in the first place. If you bought a new plant, inspect it first before bringing it inside your home. You should also wipe plant leaves in winter, which is the dormant period of aphids.
Predatory insects like lacewings and ladybugs eat both the nymphs and eggs, so they can help control the aphid population in your garden. Companion planting can also protect your valuable plants from aphids, so consider growing plants that repel these insects such as catnip, chives, and garlic.
Ready to Use Insect Sprays
There are various ready to use insect sprays that are effective in getting rid of aphids on flowering plants and even on your vegetables. Some products we recommend are: