‘Common’ Aphids, also known as ‘Plant Lice’ are small, pear-shaped, soft bodied insects that can infest most types of trees, shrubs, garden and house plants. They are generally up to ¼ inch in size and there are literally hundreds of varieties. Their color varies greatly from green, pink, yellow, red, purple, brown or black.
Aphids are annoying, plant damaging pests that can appear at any time during the ‘growing’ season. The winged adults have considerable mobility, and the Aphid family has the highest reproductive potential of any insect.
Aphids feed by piercing through the bark and/or leaves, sucking sap from the infected plant. Their damage may seem inconspicuous at first, but as the leaves are depleted of plant food, severe stunting and distortion can follow.
As Aphids suck sap from your tree, their bodies excrete a substance called ‘Honeydew’. When populations are heavy you can actually stand under the infected tree and feel the fine Honeydew mist as it cascades down. Yep, you’re standing in ‘Aphid waste’! If your car is parked beneath the tree, you will see that clear, sticky sap all over it. If the infected tree is above your deck, patio, lawn furniture or children’s toys, dust and dirt in the air then adheres to the sticky substance and ‘sooty mold fungus’ forms, making the plant itself look unhealthy and personal items below it, dirty and sticky.
During the fall, female Aphids give birth to another generation of mating males and females, producing fertilized eggs that emerge the following spring, starting the process all over again – only in much larger and more damaging numbers.
As with any insect or fungus problem, the timing of applications and quality of products used are the most important considerations. Methods of control may include spraying, trunk injection or the soil drenching of insecticides depending on the time of year, as well as the species of tree under attack.
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