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Protect Your Plants from Sap-Sucking Aphids

Aphids are commonly found on new buds and leaves - read about how to tackle them in your garden!

​Protect Your Plants from Sap-Sucking Aphids

Aphids are sap-sucking insects that feed on many different plants. Aphids are also known as greenfly, but there are many species that are other colours; yellow, red, even black. They are commonly found on new buds, and new leaves where the soft new growth is easier for them to get their hypodermic-like proboscis into, and they can reach the sap. So, in spring with lots of new growth on plants, there is often a boom of aphid numbers and their population can rise very quickly, not least because they have some extraordinary breeding habits.

Aphid infestations can appear very quickly because they have been ‘hiding’ as tiny aphids in leaf and flower buds and have gone unseen until warmer weather encourages rapid multiplication. Aphids have many methods of reproduction; in favourable conditions, many species can reproduce without males; females give birth asexually to tiny live nymphs that are clones of their ‘mother.’ In some cases, the nymphs are born already pregnant with their own asexual clone developing within. Omitting the egg stage allows for shorter life-cycles and populations can grow very rapidly. Males often do not appear until late in the year and the eggs are then produced and hidden to overwinter in buds and crevices in the bark. They will hatch in spring and start the cycle over again.

When populations become crowded, adult aphids may grow wings and disperse to other suitable plants so that infestations can quickly spread from plant to plant and garden to garden.

The natural enemies of aphids include ladybugs, hoverflies, spiders and wasps. Some aphids produce foul-smelling insect repellents to protect themselves from their predators.

To get rid of aphids follow these steps:

Infestation Control

As with all pest control, prevention is better than cure. Pro-active protection of plants from aphids and other sap-sucking insects will protect your plants from loss of vigour due to these pests.

Be on the lookout for aphids in spring. They are usually found in areas of soft plant growth.

If your plants already have an infestation you can squash them between your fingers, but this might be difficult on more than a few buds. Use McGregor’s Derris Dust or Pyrethrum Insect Control to the affected parts of the plants; pyrethrum is best applied late in the day and every few days until control is achieved. Make sure the undersides of leaves and inside curled leaves are treated. McGregor’s Spraying Oil can be applied a few days later, it suffocates the aphids on contact.

Ongoing Control

Pyrethrum Insect Control can also be used regularly to protect your plants from aphids once the infestation is under control. Also, control ants around your plants as they 'Farm' aphids and other sap-sucking insects in trees, shrubs and ornamental plants.

21 October 2020