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Garden Villain: Antagonizing Aphids

July 18th, 2010

 

This itty bitty villain can wreak havoc in the garden! The aphid loves to feed on new plant growth, sucking the sap right out of plants, and the aphid’s saliva is toxic to plants. Aphid plant damage can include: browning, curled leaves, lower growth rates and yields, mottled leaves, wilting, yellowing, and even death to plants.

Aphids are approximately 1/16- to 1/8-inch long, and they have pear-shaped bodies. There are many aphid varieties, ranging in color from black, brown, green, pink, red, or yellow. Once an aphid picks a spot to feed, usually along a plant’s stem or underneath the plant’s leaves, it will pierce the plant with its stylets—sucking mouthparts that are like tiny syringes. Just like vampires do in the movies, aphids suck the life out of their victims. Aphids also have two cornicles located at the rear of their bodies. These tube-like cornicles release cornicle wax, which is a quick-hardening defensive fluid.

If you notice that you have aphids on your plants, there are several safe, insecticide-free remedies for combating the antagonizing aphid and caring for aphid infested plants:

Purchase ladybugs. Aphids are a ladybug’s favorite meal!

Make an aphid removal home remedy. Mix 2 teaspoons mild dish or laundry soap into a bottle of lukewarm water. Spray the aphids with this mixture. The soap will wash off the aphid’s protective waxy coating and cause dehydration.

Get out your garden gloves. Put on some gloves and remove aphids from your plants with your hands.

Ready the garden hose. Shoot a sharp stream of water onto the plant where the aphids are located, to wash them off.

It’s very important as a food grower to regularly check your plants and garden for any villainous visitors. If you’re not paying close attention to what’s happening near and on your plants, aphids, one of several garden villains, can cause significant plant damage before you’re even aware there’s a problem.

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