Up close with APHIDS T

If you grow veg­eta­bles, roses, dahlias, cit­rus, or other fruit trees you will have aphids in your gar­den. As soon as the weather warms and your plants flush into suc­cu­lent spring growth, aphids are ready. They emerge from their win­ter slum­ber to start fee

Go Gardening - - Bug post -

hese tiny suck­ing ma­chines pierce young buds and shoots with their drink­ing straws and set­tle in for the feast, gorg­ing them­selves as they shoot out baby af­ter baby.

Aphids mul­ti­ply VERY rapidly in spring, not least be­cause a fe­male aphid has no time for love at this time of year. She makes babies with­out mat­ing (it’s called partheno­gen­e­sis). What’s more, these babies are all girls and at just a week old start giv­ing birth to their own baby girls - up to five per day for up to 30 days.

As if that wasn’t enough, un­like other in­sects, aphids don’t mess about lay­ing eggs at this time of year. Spring babies are born live, so they can get suck­ing right away!

There are many types of aphid, vary­ing in colour from green to yel­low and black, a dif­fer­ent one for each kind of plant. All are soft bod­ied bugs 2-4mm long. You’ll see their fat lit­tle bod­ies clus­tered to­gether as they suck the life out of your plants and poop out their ‘honey dew’.

Aphid in­fested buds may fail to open while leaves be­come twisted and dis­torted and growth may be stunted. One of the worst things about aphids is that they can trans­mit virus dis­eases to plants. The hon­ey­dew poop is also a prob­lem, es­pe­cially on cit­rus trees, as it at­tracts ugly black sooty mould. Ants will ‘farm’ the aphids for their hon­ey­dew, fend­ing off aphid en­e­mies so the aphids can keep feed­ing. What to do about aphids

The first line of de­fence is to be on watch in early spring. Check your plants reg­u­larly at the be­gin­ning of warm weather so that aphids can be con­trolled be­fore pop­u­la­tion ex­plo­sion gets away on you.

Though fright­en­ingly pro­lific, aphids are also quite vul­ner­a­ble, eas­ily squashed or killed with soapy wa­ter or other low tox­i­c­ity sprays. They also have some very ef­fec­tive nat­u­ral preda­tors, in­clud­ing la­dy­birds and tiny par­a­sitic wasps, so it’s im­por­tant to look af­ter these ben­e­fi­cials. Only spray when you need to. Many con­trol agents, in­clud­ing nat­u­ral sprays such as gar­lic, will kill the nat­u­ral preda­tors along with the pests.

Check for aphids when the weather warms up in early spring so you can avoid pop­u­la­tion ex­plo­sion in sum­mer.

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