Aphids are a sap-feeding pest that possess a distinctive “exhaust-pipe” looking structure on their body. These insects feed on many plants, including trees, shrubs, flowers, fruits, vegetables, and weeds. When aphids feed on plants, they ingest the sap and devoid the plant of nutrients and water in the form of honeydew. The presence of honeydew on leaves may encourage the growth of black sooty fungus on the plant. Aphids can also be carriers of viral organisms that may be transmitted to its host plant and cause further stress.
While aphids can be found on plants at any time, certain conditions are favorable to aphid infestation. Enclosed areas, in particular, promote reproduction of this species. Whether it’s a greenhouse or a houseplant, aphids thrive when they are protected from their natural predators. Excess fertilization and high nitrogen environments can also contribute to increases in aphid populations.
Use of insecticides can also cause a rise in aphid populations since many varieties of aphids are resistant to insecticides. Overuse of insecticides can kill off the aphid’s predators, while leaving the aphid reproductive cycle unchecked. Biological control methods can be suitable to control heavy aphid infestations. Ladybeetles and wasps are two examples of natural aphid predators.
In cases of high infestation, large colonies of aphids can be found on the undersides of leaves or stems. Ants, yellow jackets, and other sugar-loving insects are also likely to be drawn to plants suffering from aphid infestation because of the excreted honeydew. If you see unusual or increased insect activity near your plants, call or text Eric to schedule a free consultation for arborist services.