Aphids live on plants in gardens, yards, farms and fields. They are most active during warmer weather but can survive in cold weather and remain active through the winter. Some species can even survive subfreezing temperatures.
Aphids live on hundreds of plant species but their favorite plants seem to be green, blooming plants. These tiny insects prefer to live on new plant growth and young buds. Aphids live in colonies, remaining on a host plant with dozens, or hundreds of others until the plant begins to die. Overpopulation also causes them to spread out to new plants. Most species don’t fly, but their tiny size allows them to be blown long distances by the wind.
Aphids are at their highest level of activity in the spring. Eggs that have waited through the winter hatch during this time and warming temperatures bring fresh buds to plants. It’s unusual for aphids to venture indoors but if they do, they can also live on houseplants.
Aphids feed exclusively on living plants and trees. Their specialized mouths drink the nutrient-rich fluids from the plants on which they live. New, unopened flower buds, young stems or branches and the undersides of developing leaves are prime locations for aphid feeding.
Most aphids eat a huge variety of plants but some tend to live on one type of vegetation. These specifically targeted plants include cabbage, melons, potatoes, beans and apples. As they suck the fluids out of leaves and stems, the plants can start to curl up or shrivel.
Aphids produce a sticky substance called “honeydew” as they digest the plant fluid. This substance can start to cover plants and breed a fungus called “sooty mold”. It also attracts ants, yellowjackets and other pests that feed on it.
The average life cycle of an aphid is between one week and approximately one month. They can reproduce with or without a mate. In the spring, female aphids reproduce asexually, giving birth to dozens of nymphs every week. The spring and summer can see many new generations of aphids formed and rapid increases in populations. In the fall, male and female aphids mate to lay eggs. The eggs overwinter before hatching in the spring.
Aphids live near houses if there are plants and grass on which they can feed. They’ll only enter a home if they’re carried in on a plant or blown in by the wind. Indoors, they can survive on houseplants but a large infestation is unlikely.
Gardens and shrubs provide food for thousands of aphids. While natural predators, such as ladybugs, can control moderate populations, large infestations might require professional treatment.
You’ll find tiny aphids on almost any plant and tree. Small populations of these insects won’t damage plants but large infestations can cut off the plant’s nutrient supply. In addition, high levels of the sooty mold that grows in honeydew can stop leaves from absorbing sufficient sunlight and halt photosynthesis. If you see aphids affecting your plants, call Aptive Environmental today to control the problem.
You can help control populations of aphids on your plants by following these tips:
Use a hose to wash aphids off of plants with a powerful stream.
Clip off the leaves and branches with the highest number of aphids.
Release natural predators, such as ladybugs, while aphid populations are still small.
Use slow-releasing fertilizers to limit the nitrogen levels in your garden. Nitrogen boosts aphid growth.
Apply diatomaceous earth when plants aren’t in bloom to kill aphids.
Plant catnip, onion or garlic plants in your garden; these repel aphids.
Call your local Aptive branch for a same-day aphid control solution.
A large aphid infestation can damage valuable garden plants and flowers. Populations of these tiny insects can quickly grow out of control. Meanwhile, their honeydew can trigger an ant infestation.