Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Attack of the Aphids

Aphids are small, soft-bodied winged or wingless insects about 1/25 to 1/8 inches in length, with relatively long legs and antennae. Aphids can vary in color from black, green, yellow to even pink. Some aphids lay eggs, while others give birth to live young that can mature in as little as 7 to 8 days. Aphids have piercing-sucking mouthparts that remove phloem from the plant, causing distortions in young leaves and stunting new growth. They can also feed on flower buds, which cause deformities.
Since aphids feed on phloem they excrete honeydew, which is a shiny, sticky waste product that collects onto lower lying leaves. Once deposited, the honeydew is a nice food source for sooty mold which will begin to grow on the underlying foliage. Sooty mold will inhibit photosynthesis, so its growth can potentially cause severe harm to the plants.

Some Control Options

Some Non-Chemical Control Options: Conserve beneficial insects, such as spiders, praying mantids, assassin bugs, lacewings, ladybird beetle larvae and adults and parasitic wasps in outdoor landscapes. Also spraying water streams is effective to dislodge aphids from plants.
Some Chemical Control Options: Insecticidal soaps and oils can be used to control aphids and are considered low impact insecticides. Other foliar insecticides containing such active ingredients as permethrin, cyfluthrin, carbaryl, deltamethrin, pyrethrins and tebufenozide or systemic insecticides such as those containing imidacloprid or acephate can also be used.

Photo of crape myrtle aphids, Tinocallis kahawaluokalani (Kirkaldy) (Homoptera: Aphididae. Photo by Bart Drees, Professor and Extension Entomologist, Texas A&M University.

No comments: