What Are Aphids?
This is what I asked the first time a friend told me to read ground guider blogs to know about them! Aphids are tiny insects, less than ¼ inches in length. They are also known as plant lice.
Apart from yellow, you may find aphids in light green, black, brown, and gray. You will most commonly find them on the backs of leaves, based on the stems, on fruits and flower buds.
Sometimes they can also get to the roots depending on the species of aphids. They can find their way into any garden and even indoor ones.
Aphids are small and soft-bodied and may look harmless but can cause a lot of damage. When I found my plants wilting and looking weak, I asked a friend for help.
He explained how these tiny insects could suck the liquid, full of nutrients, out of the plants. It is essential to get them under control before they start reproducing.
If you are wondering how to get rid of tiny yellow bugs (aphids), then the good news is that you do so quite quickly.
Signs of Aphids
Aphids have piercing-sucking parts in the mouth, which make it easy for them to reach the sap stream of plants. Aphids don’t cause much damage by direct feeding unless they are present in large numbers.
The main cause of worry is the damage they can cause by the transmission of plant virus diseases. They like to feed on young and soft leaves, stems, buds, and fruits, forming colonies on them.
You will be able to notice their presence with the help of these signs.
- Cluster or colonies on young stems, leaves, and, buds
- Leaves and young shoots looking wilted and distorted
- Leaves turning yellow and young plants dying prematurely
- Black moldy fungus and honeydew on leaves and fruits
- Any symptom of virus disease which varies from plant to plant
You need to inspect and monitor the plants for any signs of aphid infestation. A casual inspection may not reveal much, and you will have to look under the young leaves or along the stems.
Sometimes, distorted growth may also indicate the presence of aphids. Early control is the best way to deal with them. Note the position of infested plants and use an effective method to get rid of them.
One thing you must know is that different species of aphids occupy different parts of the plant. Sticky traps or cards can be used to monitor the entry of aphids into any crop.
Along with crop inspection, these traps will indicate when an action for control is required.
Ways to Control Aphids
There are many ways to control aphids. Aphids multiply rapidly, so it is best to use two or more methods to control them completely. With a little patience and persistence, you will see the desired results. Watch this video for more information.
1. Chemical Control
You can get rid of aphids easily with chemical pesticides. Aphids reproduce very fast and can re-infest very quickly. Using chemical pesticides can solve the problem, but the problem can recur.
You will have to apply chemicals often, and there is a chance that you may also harm the beneficial insects. You must monitor the plants to ensure that insecticide is only applied when necessary.
Spray the pesticide carefully and cover the underside of the leaves. Hot-spot areas need better applications to stop the spread of aphids. It is better to consult an expert before using chemical pesticides because they can have some severe effects on the plants, soil, and even you.
2. Biological Control
This is an exciting but quite common way of getting rid of aphids. There are several natural enemies of aphids. Many predators, parasites, and diseases can help with the management of aphids.
These are biological control agents, and you can buy them from a reputed store. These are used when a chemical pesticide is not an option or not preferred.
3. Organic Control
In my opinion, this is the best way to control aphids. It is safe and natural and will not harm the plants or soil adversely. There are a variety of ways you can control aphids, depending on the severity of the problem.
- A simple thing like a strong blast of water may dislodge the aphids from the plants.
- Insects like ladybugs, lacewings, damsel bugs, etc. attack aphids. You can attract them to your garden or even purchase them. This is a natural way of getting rid of aphids. Planting mint, dill, and dandelions will attract these predator insects.
- Use herbal or homemade insecticides made with tomato leaves, garlic spray, etc. to kill aphids. It would be best if you reapplied when the aphids reappear.
- You can try dusting flour if you have more number of aphids. It constipates them
- Neem oil and some other horticultural oils are effective against aphids.
- Use a mild solution of soap and water to wipe or spray the leaves every 2-3 days. You can add cayenne pepper to this mix to make it more potent.
How To Prevent Aphid Infestation
Though you cannot wholly control aphid infestation but taking a few steps can minimize it. See what works for you and your plants.
- Companion Planting: planting in tandem can help keep the aphids away. For example, aphids are attracted to mustard and nasturtium. Plant these near more valuable plants as a trap for aphids. Garlic and chives also repel aphids when planted near peas and rose bushes.
- High-Quality Seeds: use virus-free seeds and transplants to prevent any infestation
- Remove Infested Plant: if the infestation is severe, it is better to remove the plant; otherwise, the other plants may be affected.
- Use Screens: use screens to prevent the entry of aphids into greenhouses
- Eliminate Plants: either don’t plant or remove the plants that are aphids friendly.
Are Aphids Very Harmful?
Yes, in large numbers, they can cause a lot of damage. However, these tiny insects also have a part to play in the food chain. Many other predator insects eat them and, in turn, are preyed upon by birds and other insects.
For a stable and diverse environment, they are as necessary as any other living being. If they start to become a problem for your crop or your plants, you have to take some action.
Try to keep it simple and natural so that you don’t cause any unnecessary damage to the environment.
Aphids don’t cause any direct harm to humans, and we have nothing to worry about. They feed off the sugar-rich juices in the plants by sucking it with their tiny mouths.
The problem is that they don’t like to dine alone! You will usually find them in large numbers. Depending on the level of infestation, they may cause immense damage to entire crops.
They secrete a substance called honeydew, which attracts ants. If you follow a trail of ants into the plants, you can easily find the aphids. Ants are even known to herd them together and protect them from predators to produce honeydew better.
Aphid Life Cycle
Aphids have a complicated life cycle. Wingless female aphids reproduce without insemination during the summer. They produce young ones and not eggs like other insects.
Some offspring grow into adults along with wings and fly to fresh plants. Later in summer both females and males mate and then the female sets eggs that outlast the winter.
The overwintering egg stage does not take place in humid climates. They reproduce at a very fast pace. Mature aphids lay three to six eggs per day. Rapid asexual reproduction cycle is what leads to the widespread infestation in plants and crops.
Aphids can weaken a plant and stunt its growth. They can cause plants to wilt and even die if left uncontrolled. The leaves start to curl and become yellow.
Generally, if you notice your plants appearing anemic with no other obvious reason, then it could be aphids causing this problem. There are many ways you can take care of aphids’ problem.
I would advise you to stick to natural and organic methods for this. Use chemical pesticides only as of the last option.
We feel that with the information given here, you will be able to tackle this problem quite quickly. Feel free to contact us for more information or in case of any doubts.
We will be happy to help you in any way we can. Remember that aphid infestation only becomes serious when you let it go unchecked for a long time.
Regular monitoring and inspection are very beneficial for early control. Keep aphids away to keep your plants healthy and strong.