Aphids are small, soft insects with sucking mouthparts. They come in a variety of colors and can attack a wide variety of plants as well. They are generally found under leaves and on tender new stems, often in colonies. The new growth of plants may be discolored or damaged from the feeding. Aphids suck the sap from plants and excrete a sticky substance called honeydew that ants love, so ants are often seen feeding on it and protecting aphids from predators. Honeydew from aphids can also lead to sooty mold, a fungus which grows on the sticky leaves and gives the plant a dirty appearance. Aphids reproduce very rapidly throughout the summer since females don’t have to mate to have young and give birth to live young.
Luckily, there are several methods to control aphids. Releasing beneficial insects such as ladybugs and praying mantis can help keep aphid populations in check. Lady beetles can eat up to 50 aphids a day and are a natural solution. Sprays such as Fertilome’s Horticultural Oil are also safe and natural. Products containing Permethrin such as Hi-Yield’s Indoor/Outdoor and Bonide’s Eight also control aphids and the ants that feed on them.
*Please read and follow all label instructions when applying chemicals.