Aphid Attacks

Aphids are small, soft bodied, sap-sucking insects and while they are not something you want to find on your plants they are rather fascinating.

One of the reasons that aphids can be such a pest is that even a few of the insects can quickly turn into a bad infestation. This is because the females are able to make babies without male intervention in an amazing process known as telescopic development.

The mostly green or black bugs are also one part of an amazing symbiotic relationship and their surprising partner is the humble ant. The ants essentially farm the aphids and move the small insects from plant to plant to feed. The aphids use their sharp mouthparts to pierce the tender plant walls and suck out the sugar-rich sap. In fact the sap is so full of sugar that the aphids secrete a sweet liquid known as honeydew which the ants cherish and consume. In exchange for this sweet treat the ants protect the aphids from predators such as ladybirds. Enough aphids on your plants can seriously damage them as the aphids siphon off the plants nutrients and the honeydew they produce can lead to fungal infections on the plant.  What’s worse is that they can act as vectors for plant disease and move an infection from one plant to the next as they feed.

For an environmentally sound approach to getting rid of aphids you can try mixing up some soapy water in a spray bottle to spray on the bugs and repeated spraying is necessary. The soapy water traps the insects and suffocates them. If your problem is severe and needs a more targeted approach then Aphicide-plus is available at most nurseries. Follow the application instructions on the package insert and be sure to take the necessary safety precautions when applying the insecticide.