How to Identify and Prevent Aphids This Spring

January 31, 2019 10:41 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

There are both good and bad garden bugs in Alaska. However, aphids are not the type of insects you want living on your plants. If you have a garden, then you’ve probably seen these little green bugs hanging onto your plants, usually clustered on the underside of healthy leaves. Every garden has aphids, but that doesn’t mean you have to accept them. Below is some information to help you identify and prevent aphids this spring.

Identifying aphids

Aphids are small, soft-bodied insects. They range in color from green to brown, depending on the species of aphid, and thrive well in almost any climate zone. These little insects multiply quickly, which is why it’s extremely important for you to get them under control before they start reproducing and your small problem turns into a full-on infestation. However, aphids tend to move slowly, which can be a saving grace in your efforts to control their numbers in your garden. Here’s some other important information to know:

  • At under a quarter inch long, adult aphids are very small, and often difficult to see with the naked eye unless clustered in a group on a leaf. There are various species, and they may be green, white, black, gray, brown, yellow or even pink in color. Their bodies may have a glossy or matte coating.
  • Aphid bodies are most commonly pear-shaped, and young aphids look similar to adults. Their antennae are long, and most species of aphids have two short tubes, called cornicles, projecting from their backside.
  • Although adult aphids are usually wingless, most species can develop a winged form when their numbers get too high. When the food supply is threatened, they need to be able to travel to other plants and areas to eat, reproduce and start a new home.
  • Aphids tend to feed in large groups, but it’s not unusual to find some feeding alone on occasion. Aphids will eat a variety of plants. However, different species of aphids—for example, the birch aphid, potato aphid, green peach aphid and melon aphid—can target specific plants.

Preventing an aphid infestation

There are several effective methods of getting rid of aphids, like dusting plants with flour or wiping plant leaves with a mild soapy solution. While aphid control and management may be necessary after these insects have landed, you ideally want to prevent an infestation from happening in the first place. Luckily, some effective long-term solutions do exist. The goal is to keep aphids from wreaking havoc on your plants while not negatively affecting beneficial organisms.

The easiest prevention method keeps aphids away and enhances your garden’s appearance. Plant companion plants that are known to attract beneficial insects and organisms—aphid-repelling plants include garlic, chives, onions and radishes, or you can use aphid-attracting plants like nasturtium in another area to draw aphids away from your garden. Another popular prevention strategy is to attract good insects that eat aphids to your garden, such as ladybugs and lacewings.

If you need insect control in Alaska come spring, reach out to Pied Piper Pest Control immediately. We look forward to helping you!

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