What month do aphids come out?
Where Do Aphids Come From Anyway?
Aphids are among the prolific pests of cultivated plants. These destructive pests cause significant damage to agricultural plants, especially in temperate regions. While the aphid’s ability to cause damage to plants is well known, where do Aphids come from? Understanding the origin and lifecycle of this insect might provide insight into how to get rid of them.
Aphids attack plants in their hundreds. Within a few days, they can suck all the nutrients from a host plant and damage it in the process. They also reproduce really fast, and without prompt care, an infestation can spread to neighboring plants.
If you are a gardener battling an infestation, you’re probably wondering where these destructive insects came from. Maybe that might provide an insight into how to prevent them from spreading in your garden.
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What Are Aphids?
Aphids are a group of insects that belong to the family Aphididae. There are several thousand species of tiny insects in this large family, and they all have boring mouthparts which allow them to feed on the sap of plants.
There are up to 4,400 species of aphids, and 250 of these are considered serious pests that tend to cause significant damage to both agricultural and ornamental plants. Some of the common aphids include green apple aphids, back aphids, green aphids, potato aphids, oleander aphids, milkweed aphids, rose aphids, and so on.
Where Do They Come From?
There are different species of aphids found in various countries all over the world. They mostly prepare temperate zones with moderate climates. In such places, the aphid population can persist all year round. However, an infestation is typically seasonal.
Aphids have a complex life cycle, which involves migrating from one planet to the other during different seasons of the year. This is why it seems like they just appeared out of nowhere in your garden. For instance, the primary host of the black bean aphids is typically a shrub such as spindle trees or mock orange plants. This is where it lays its eggs and overwinters. However, during the warm summer months, it moves to crops such as sugar beets, beans, and celery.
For some other aphid species, they lay their eggs in the fall. These eggs will not hatch into larvae until springtime. A whole new generation will be born during the spring season when the eggs hatch, giving rise to a sudden infestation.
Aphids move very slowly, which often slows down the infestation rate. Still, an infestation can spread from affected plants to nearby plants. Also, human activities such as transplanting plants can aid the spread of insects.
Winged Aphids- Where Do They Come From?
The first generation of aphids that emerge from eggs during spring typically have no wings. These wingless ones will continue to grow and feed on host plants. However, you may have noticed some winged varieties in your garden. Where do these winged aphids actually come from?
Here’s how it works: Aphids can either be monoecious or heteroecious. While monoecious insects only develop on specific species of plants, heteroecious ones can develop and feed on different plant species. They’re also capable of reproducing on the plants they grow on. This allows the development of new generations of insects. Some are even able to reproduce without fertilization from a male. The new aphid produced is typically a female that is a copy of the parents.
As the aphid generation continues to grow, the sap on the plant they feed on may become depleted due to the growing population. When this happens, subsequent generations that are produced are winged females capable of migrating to new plants. This helps to keep the population of the primary host plant under control.
After a few generations asexually reproduce this way, new males and females may be produced, in which case sexual reproduction occurs with the female laying eggs on host plants again during fall. This allows their lifecycle to continue again for the following year.
Where Do Aphids Come From In Indoor Conditions?
Indoor plants are not free from the scourge of Aphid infestation. They’re a common pest for both indoor and outdoor plants. So how do they get on indoor plants?
Typically, your plant may end up with an infestation if it already has eggs or larvae before it was brought indoors from outside. The eggs are too tiny to be seen easily, so it is possible to miss them.
Winged aphids can also fly in from outside through an open window or be brought in by the wind. People can also bring them in by accident. For instance, if your outdoor garden is heavily infested, some of these insects can get stuck on your clothes or shoes while you’re working in the garden, and this can get transported to your indoor garden when you go there.
Once they get on a new host plant, aphids reproduce very quickly, and before you know it, you have a massive infestation on your hand. However, aphids have a short lifespan of just 25 days. While a single female can give birth to up to 80 young insects within that time, their short lifespan makes it a bit easy to control their population.
Where Do Aphids Come From In The Spring?
As earlier explained, the reason for the boom in the aphid population during spring is due to the seasonal nature of their life cycle. Many species lay their eggs at the beginning of fall. These eggs typically hatch when spring arrives. Thus you might not notice any live aphids during the winter at all because their eggs and larvae stay hidden. Then suddenly, the young ones begin to emerge in their numbers during the spring season.
In most species, all the eggs that hatch in spring grow into adult females. These females will not lay eggs, but they can give birth to live young. Since there are no males, the females undergo asexual reproduction to produce new young females.
Regardless of how your plants developed an infestation, getting rid of these insects as soon as you notice an infestation is very important. These insects can cause significant damage to plants. Aphid populations can grow quickly, and they can also spread from one plant to the other through different means. Fortunately, it is possible to get rid of them using natural enemies such as ladybugs and lacewings. The larvae of some species of wasps also feed on this insect. Alternative methods of control include the use of neem oil spray and chemical insecticides formulated specifically for insects like this.
The 5 Best Insecticidal (Aphid) Soap To Protect Your Plants– Insecticidal soaps are effective against aphids. Read this review of the five best soaps you can buy to protect your garden.
What Do Aphids Eat? – Want to know if your garden plant is on the aphid’s menu? Read this to learn about the diet of this notorious pest.
Where do bed bugs come from? – Bed bug infestations are a serious problem because they can be difficult to get rid of. Here’s all you need to know about where they come from.
What are those little green bugs on your plants? They’re probably aphids! Here are our best tips for getting rid of aphids in your garden.
What Are Aphids?
Aphids seem to find their way into every garden. They are small, soft-bodied insects that feed by sucking the nutrient-rich liquids out of plants. In large numbers, they can weaken plants significantly, harming flowers and fruit. Aphids multiply quickly, so it’s important to get them under control before reproduction starts. Many generations can occur in one season.
The good news is that aphids tend to move rather slowly and, with diligent care, can be controlled.
Aphids are tiny (adults are under 1/4-inch), and often nearly invisible to the naked eye. Various species can appear white, black, brown, gray, yellow, light green, or even pink! Some may have a waxy or woolly coating. They have pear-shaped bodies with long antennae; the nymphs (young aphids) look similar to the adults. Most species have two short tubes (called cornicles) projecting from their hind end.
Adults are usually wingless, but most species can develop a winged form when populations become crowded, so that when food quality suffers, the insects can travel to other plants, reproduce, and start a new colony. Aphids usually feed in large groups, although you might occasionally see them singly or in small numbers.
While aphids in general feed on a wide variety of plants, different species of aphids can be specific to certain plants. For example, some species include bean aphids, cabbage aphids, potato aphids, green peach aphids, melon aphids, and woolly apple aphids.
What Does Aphid Damage Look Like?
Nymphs and adults feed on plant juices, attacking leaves, stems, buds, flowers, fruit, and/or roots, depending on the species. Most aphids especially like succulent new growth. Some, such as the green peach aphid, feed on a variety of plants, while others, such as the rosy apple aphid, focus on one or just a few plant hosts.
- Look for misshapen, curling, stunted, or yellowing leaves. Be sure to check the undersides of leaves; aphids love to hide there.
- If the leaves or stems are covered with a sticky substance, that is a sign that aphids may have been sipping sap. This “honeydew,” a sugary liquid produced by the insects as waste, can attract other insects, such as ants, which gather the substance for food. When aphids feed on trees, their honeydew can drop onto cars, outdoor furniture, driveways, and so on.
- The honeydew can sometimes encourage a fungal growth called sooty mold, causing branches and leaves to appear black.
- Flowers or fruit can become distorted or deformed due to feeding aphids.
- Some aphid species cause galls to form on roots or leaves.
- Aphids may transmit viruses between plants, and also attract other insects that prey on them, such as ladybugs.
Control and Prevention
How to Get Rid of Aphids
- Try spraying infested plants with a strong stream of water; sometimes all aphids need is a blast to dislodge them. Typically, they are unable to find their way back to the same plant.
- Neem oil, insecticidal soaps, and horticultural oils are effective against aphids, but these substances need to come into contact with the aphids in order to work. Be sure to follow the application instructions provided on the packaging.
- You can often control aphids by wiping or spraying the leaves of the plant with a mild solution of water and a few drops of dish soap. Soapy water should be reapplied every 2-3 days for 2 weeks.
- One variation of this soap-water mix includes cayenne pepper: Stir together 1 quart water, 1 tsp liquid dish soap, and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Do not dilute before spraying on plants.
- Diatomaceous earth ( DE ) is a non-toxic, organic material that will dehydrate aphids.
Warning: Do not apply DE when plants are in bloom, as it will kill pollinators such as bees and butterflies if they come into contact with it.
How to Prevent Aphids
- For fruit or shade trees, spray dormant horticultural oil to kill overwintering aphid eggs.
- Beneficial insects, such as ladybugs, lacewings, and parasitic wasps, will feed on aphids. Attract these insect to your garden by providing an environment that features a range of flowers and foliage plants, as well as access to water. Supplemental populations of these insects can be ordered online and should help keep the aphid populations controlled from the start.
- Companion planting can help to keep aphids away from your plants in the first place, or to draw them away from the plants your really want to grow. For example:
- Aphids are repelled by catnip.
- Aphids are especially attracted to mustard and nasturtium. Plant these near more valuable plants as traps for the aphids. The aphids will likely go for these plants before your prized tomatoes. (Check your trap plants regularly to keep aphid populations from jumping to your valued plants.)
- Nasturtiums spoil the taste of fruit tree sap for aphids and will help keep aphids off of broccoli.
- Garlic and chives repel aphids when planted near lettuce, peas, and rose bushes.
Using Alcohol to Control Aphids
Isopropyl alcohol (also called isopropanol or rubbing alcohol) works fine and is easy to find, but be sure it doesn’t have additives. Ethanol (grain alcohol) seems to work best. Alcohol usually comes in 70 percent strength in stores (or 95 percent strength purchased commercially). To make an insecticidal alcohol solution, mix equal parts 70 percent alcohol and water (or, if using 95 percent alcohol, mix 1 part alcohol to 1 ½ parts water).
You can also add alcohol to a soapy emulsion to make it more effective. For example, in a spray bottle, combine 5 cups water, 2 cups isopropyl alcohol, and 1 tablespoon liquid dish soap.
These types of solutions should NOT be sprayed over the entire plant at once. Spray or wipe down only the infested areas. It will only kill the aphids it comes into contact with, so repeated applications may be necessary.
CAUTION : When applying an alcohol or soap spray, or a combination, always test on a small area of the plant first, and apply in morning or evening, when the sun is not as intense. Watch the plant for a few days for any adverse reactions before applying more. Plants can be sensitive to alcohol and dish soap. Also, some soaps have additives that can damage plants—select the purest form.
Check out this video to learn more about how to get rid of aphids:
Do you have more tips for controlling aphids? Let us know in the comments below!
Aphids on Trees and Shrubs
- Aphids (plant lice) are common plant feeding insects. Usually, they do not occur in damaging numbers.
- Occasionally large populations develop that may temporarily reduce the aesthetic quality of trees and shrubs but can damage small plants like annual flowers.
Appearance and habits
- Most mature aphids are about an eighth of an inch long and are yellow or light green.
- A few are black, shades of red, brown, white, or grey.
- Aphids may be winged or wingless.
- Each aphid has 6 thin legs, 2 antennae on the head, a pair of tubes on the back, and a slender “beak” which is pushed into plants to suck sap.
- Most aphids prefer to feed on buds and the underside of terminal leaves, however, some species are adapted to feed on roots.
Aphids on needled evergreens
- Several species occur on needled evergreen shrubs in Maryland.
- The white pine aphid, Cinara strobi feeds only on white pine.
- Winged adults are 1/16 inch (4 mm) long. The body is shiny dark brown to black, with a white stripe down the middle of the back and powdery white spots on the sides. The eggs overwinter on the needles.
- Heavy infestations of this aphid may kill young shrubs or branches of large shrubs. Several other species of aphids Cinara, Eulachnus, Essigella, and Schizolachnus infest other species of pine. And there are other species of aphids that attack juniper, spruce, and fir.
- Aphid populations may build up quickly.
- When the overwintering eggs hatch in the spring, usually April or May, the emerging insects are all females.
- After that, females produce females (generally they are born alive) without male fertilization, throughout the summer.
- In hot weather, a generation may be produced every 1-2 weeks.
- In the fall, a generation of both males and females appears. The two sexes then mate and the females deposit oval, black eggs on the bark of shrubs and trees.
- These eggs do not hatch until the next spring.
- Low aphid numbers usually do not result in plant damage. However, large aphid populations can cause wilting, yellowing, and curling of leaves. This may severely damage small plants such as flowering annuals unless the aphids are controlled by beneficial insects or by human intervention.
- Large shrubs and trees outgrow aphid damage during the growing season because beneficial insects reduce aphid populations below damaging numbers.
- When aphids feed, they excrete “honeydew”; a sugary solution left after partial digestion of plant sap. This liquid falls on lower plant leaves, picnic tables, patios, and sidewalks. The honeydew dries into a clear, shiny spot. These spots often turn black because a black fungus called sooty mold (see photo below) grows on them. A dense sooty mold growth shades out sunlight and affected leaves may be weakened. Honeydew also has a useful purpose; it attracts predators and parasites of aphids.
- Aphids also transmit many virus diseases between ornamentals. Viruses are spread from plant to plant when aphids feed on diseased plants and then move to feed on healthy plants. The viruses are carried from plant to plant inside the aphid in the insect infected plant sap.
- Before considering sprays for aphids on shrubs and trees, carefully examine some infested leaves for the presence of natural enemy life stages. These include the eggs, larvae, pupae, and adults of predators such as lady beetles (ladybugs), lacewings, and flower flies.
- Also, look closely for the presence of aphids containing wasp parasites. Parasitized aphids, called “mummies” are round and tan colored (refer to the photo below). When the minute wasp emerges from the aphid mummy, a small hole is left in the aphid’s back.
- It only takes a few predators and parasites on a small plant or branch terminal to reduce aphid populations.
- Aphid populations can be reduced by washing the leaves and stems of sturdy plants, such as shrubs and trees, with strong water sprays from a garden hose.
Chemical management (outdoors)
- If no aphid predator or parasite life stages are present, and the level of plant damage is objectionable, control may be necessary.
- A commercial brand of insecticidal soap is the safest insecticide to use.
- Soap kills by contact, so coverage must be thorough.
- Repeat applications may be necessary. Read and follow label directions.
Chemical management (indoors)
- Indoor sprays labeled for aphid infested house plants are usually pump sprays containing insecticidal soap or pyrethrum.
- Be sure the chemical is labeled for indoor use and the pest and plant you want to spray is on the label.