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Aphids: General Information, Damages and How to Get Rid of them

June 26, 2017

Aphids are small, mostly green or black in color insects that are very injurious to plants or crops. Different names know aphids. Their size ranges from 1mm to 6mm long. Aphids have long pointed beaks that they insert into the plant’s phloem and xylem to get nourishment. They live in large colonies. There would be rare cases when they live in small colonies. They migrate to places where they can find more green plants. They are small and not easily to see, but their presence can harm the crops and plants.

Diet and Habits

The aphid’s habitat is near crops, plants, trees, and grass. They are mostly found near crops and plants and especially near the stems and roots of the plants where they get their nourishment. The smaller and the adult aphids get their feeding from the plants the same way. They are highly attracted towards the vegetative parts of the plants. They feed through the tube that runs from the mouth to the abdomen of the aphid providing them the fluid. They insert their beaks which pass through the cell wall and then the cell membrane of the plants. They reach the desired part and sucks the fluid that passes through the tube in their mouth to the abdomen, and they nourish on it. They also secrete fluid through their anus that is the source of food to other insects and ants especially. This fluid is a thick honey-like substance that sometimes sticks to the plants where the other insects can reach for feeding. This process of feeding of aphids give nourishment, food, and energy to the aphids but destroys the crops and plants.

【Read more about Ants】

Behavior & Defense

Aphids are herbivores that feed on both wild and no wild plants. Their behavior and defense are unique because they attach themselves to the plants with so much strength piercing the walls and membranes of the plants reaching the inner part of the stem, roots, and leaves to obtain their desired food.

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Reproduction and Life CycleFemale aphid with new baby nymph

Aphids can reproduce both sexually and asexually.

  • Sexually

The male and female aphids do sexual reproduction in winter, and the eggs released into the fluid that is attained from the plants to nourish them.

  • Asexually

The mothers or the queen of aphids can produce asexually in summer and spring; they do not require mating. They get themselves hot and use the reproducing fluid to produce new offspring. Therefore, they are large in population, and the new nymphs or the adult ones also choose to be the soldier aphids who protects the mother.

The mothers are mostly female, and they can do both asexual and sexual reproduction. They can sense the environment conditions and produce new offspring according to that. If the conditions are friendly, it produces wingless aphids, but if the environment is not suitable, they produce the new aphids with wings so that they can fly or migrate to other better places for nourishment. When they reach a better place, the new mother starts to breed the other offspring. Their asexual reproduction process is known as parthenogenesis. The mothers are so unique, and they mostly attach themselves to the stem where they can get the maximum nourishment to produce new offspring. The new offspring is with wings, and they mate with each other, so that is how their life cycle continues. The asexual ones are the clones or the copies of the mothers. However, they are very harmful to plants and crops. Their release of honeydew makes the plants and crops rotten or infectious with infestations by the aphids.

Aphid DamageBean leaf infested with aphids

Aphids cause many damages to the plants and crops. The aphids who sticks themselves to the leaf surface blocks the leaves surface to breath by the honeydew that sticks to the leaves. That part of the leaf will get rotten or turn yellow. The roots and stems grow weak because mostly the attack is made by the whole colony or many aphids that feed all day and night. That is why farmers are getting worried because of the rise in their population. Their infestation can make the plant infected, and the plant will not be able to get grown or produce the desired production. It can also lead to bad production in crops and can be a loss to farmers. They are not easy to stop. They are in large population and can only be eliminated by affected solutions. The affected solutions that can be used are described in the next section.

How to Get Rid of Aphids

1. Using Commercially Available Beneficial Insects

Insects that are the predators of aphids can be used in the elimination of removing aphids. The aphids will be eaten out by them, and the crops can get safe. This new method is getting famous among farmers and gardeners. However, the important thing is to use those predators that are not harmful to crops, which can only be used to destroy the aphid’s population.

2. Pinch or Prune off Heavily Infested Leaves or other Plant Parts

You can remove the aphids by covering yourself, wearing gloves and cutting the affected portions when the infestation is more severe. Otherwise, you can just remove them from a stick or branch. This process is difficult or time taking.

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3. By High Water Pressure or Garden HoseSmiling woman standing in orangery and holding garden hose

Garden hose can be used to kill or eliminate the aphids from the crops. The aphids will get suffocated from a garden hose. This method mainly harms the younger ones. This method can decrease the population by killing or removing the aphids by high water pressure but cannot remove the adult ones.

4. Use of Dish Soap

The basic ingredient that is the perfect solution for eliminating small crop or yard areas aphids is by mixing detergent in water and applying them on aphids. It kills the aphids. They ultimately get weaker, and the bond which is made by their beak with the stem gets loose, and they fall off or die. This solution is used because it is not harmful to plants. It also kills the eggs and newly born in minutes.

5. Neem Oil

You can spray any oil, but neem oil is the best for suffocating aphids. This solution is also used for killing other crop insects. It can work as a natural pesticide. The beneficial insects do not get killed by neem oil. It only will make them stay away from the crops. So, it is highly recommended for farmers and gardeners.

6. Mix Soap and Insecticides

To kill the adult ones, soap mixed with insecticides. It will first suffocate the aphids, and then slowly kill them. It will kill the mother or the queen of aphids that are guarded by the soldier aphids.

7. Using Birds as Predators

Birds can also be used as predators because they feed on small insects.

8. Apply Food-grade Diatomaceous Earth for Long-lasting Protection

Application of food-grade diatomaceous on plants and crops can protect them longer from aphids and other mites.

【Read more about Mites】

9. Fast-acting Botanical InsecticidesHand squirting a solution of rose aphid in garden

By using insecticides and pesticides, the aphids can get killed. It is necessary for farmers and gardeners to spray the crops and plants time to time. Otherwise, the crops can get infected with infestations of the aphids. The crops or plants also get weaken which reduces their capacity of growing.

Note: Ants are the protectors of the aphids because aphids provide them with food. So, it is necessary to take care of ants first. Then, you can easily eliminate aphids.

Other Fun Facts about Aphids

  • There is a wide range of different sizes in aphids, and they can be found in so many rare but different colors. The colors are black, green, red, blue, purple, brown, orange & golden but these colors vary from species to species and place to place.
  • They have a soft body, but the complex internal structure which is the tube that is in such a way inside the mouth that when the aphids suck the fluid, the tube automatically takes it to the abdomen makes honey like sugary fluid and passes it through its anus.
  • The honey-like fluid are the feces of the aphids.
  • Some of the species of aphid’s lack wings and some have colorful or transparent wings.
  • Their most reason for migration is looking for better habitat mostly vegetative crop areas.
  • They can pierce stem, root, leaves, and even the plant sap area to reach the fluid and obtain food.
  • Their beak is so strong that it can pierce some strong stem and roots also.Flat aphid on plant in the wild
  • They feed during the whole day and night.
  • Other insects or ants use Their feces as a source of food.
  • Another important fun fact is that the aphid gets protected by ants during the winter. They share food and same habitat.
  • The enemies of aphids that eat them are spiders and lady bugs mainly.
  • Mostly species hide from the predators by sticking inside the plants but mostly leaves the plants and roll off to the ground or fly away.
  • They have both sexual and asexual reproduction. The women’s can produce offspring themselves and nourish them through their tube which directly passes the feeding material to the abdomen. The fluid works as a nourishing cell for the new offspring. The new offspring are the replica of their mother.
  • Some of the adult aphids work as a soldier and protect the colony or the mother of aphids from the predators and give them the feeding material.
  • They migrate in search of foods.
  • They can even survive in harsh conditions or non-friendly environment for months.

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