Aphids, also known as plant lice, are tiny sap-sucking insects. Though these insects are soft-bodied, they have stylets (piercing mouthparts or needle-like appendage) that helps them pierce through the plant tissue so as to feed over sap. They also leave behind honeydew secretion that may attract ants. Besides attracting ants or other insects, the honeydew secretion may also encourage the growth of a black fungus called black soot.
Did You Know?Just a week old female aphid can produce up to 5 offspring per day for a period of one month, and a single aphid can produce about 50 to 60 offspring in a week.
Their saliva can also damage the leaves, causing them to wilt or become discolored. They can attack any part of the plant but they prefer to infest the tender new growth. They can usually be spotted underneath the leaves or on the stem.
Since these insects multiply at a very fast pace, steps must be taken to curb their growth. One of the precautionary measures that can be followed is to examine the plants on a regular basis. This way you would be able to spot these pests. The idea is to spot them soon and get rid of them as soon as possible. If you find discolored leaves or spot black soot on them, look very closely. Since new tender growth is more susceptible to damage by plant lice, you must check these areas for these little pests. Here are some of the methods that may prove helpful.
Examine the plants for signs of an infestation. Look closely. If you spot these insects, do not touch them with bare hands. Do wear gloves. Pick these tiny soft-bodied pests from the leaves and stems. Squish them or dispose them off by drowning them in soapy water. You can also get rid of them by spraying the affected area with a strong stream of water. This is an effective way to dislodge these pests from the plant.
You can also prune the area that is infested by these insects. If there is a heavy infestation, cutting off the affected area is a great option. This will prevent them from multiplying further. It is better to chop off an infested portion rather than letting the entire plant get damaged by them.
Mix 2 teaspoons of mild dish washing soap to a bottle of lukewarm water. Spray this solution to the infested area. You can also spray neem oil on the plants. That will surely solve the problem of aphid infestation. You can even make a non-toxic pesticide at home. Mix vegetable oil to lukewarm water. Add 2-3 drops of dish washing soap to this solution. Spray this solution on the affected plants. This solution will clog their respiratory spiracles, thereby suffocating them. Make sure that you don't use this oil solution when it is too sunny and the sun's rays are falling on the plant. This can cause damage to the plant.
These insects dislike the smell of garlic, mint and catnip. You could also use a garlic spray to kill them or plant garlic in your garden. Use sprays that contain oxalic acid over the affected plants. Oxalic acid acts like a poison for these pests. This acid can be found in garlic, rhubarb and hot pepper spray.
Beneficial bugs such as ladybugs, damsel bugs, hoverflies and green lacewing larvae are natural predators of aphids. You could go to a garden center to purchase them. If any of these beneficial bugs are released on the aphid-infested plant, these will feed on them, thereby destroying their colony.
An aphid infestation is a total nightmare for farmers and gardeners. If these insects are allowed to multiply, they will wreak havoc on your plants. It is therefore essential that you use effective aphid removal methods to prevent these destructive sap-sucking insects from damaging your plants. Spot these bugs before they grow into a colony and cause great damage to your plants.