APHIDS (superfamily Aphidoidea)are small sap-sucking insects that are one of the most destructive insect pests on cultivated plants in temperate regions. They cause distortion of enlarging leaves and shoots and reduce the vigor of plants. As they feed, aphids produce sticky honeydew which drips onto leaves and fruit below. The honeydew is colonized by sooty molds, which reduce the quality of greenhouse vegetables and ornamentals. Some species of aphids also transmit plant viruses.
LIFE CYCLE: Aphid eggs over winter, and females emerge in the spring to begin quickly reproducing asexually. Aphid reproduction is usually parthenogenetic and viviparous, which means that aphids give live birth to first instar female nymphs that resemble their parents in every way except size. Aphids continue to reproduce multiple generations all spring and summer, with each generation living for 20-40 days. One female hatched in the spring can potentially produce thousands of descendants throughout the season. Some species of aphids produce winged females in the summer that migrate to start new colonies due to over crowding or low food quality and/or quantity. In autumn, the female aphids begin to parthenogenetically produce sexual females and males that then mate to develop eggs outside of the mother. Eggs over winter to hatch in the spring. In a greenhouse setting, however, aphids may go on reproducing asexually for years. Some species of aphids even have telescoping generations where the parthenogenetic, viviparous female has a daughter within her, who is already parthenogenetically producing her own offspring.
CONTROL: Sound Horticulture commonly consults on specific control methods of green peach, melon, black, and foxglove aphids in the greenhouse industry, as well as tackling a wide array of other problem areas such as aphid control in orchards and hazelnut production, and farmers using hoop houses to extend seasons for row crops and vegetable production. We offer several beneficial insects for aphid control, and many can be used simultaneously if needed. For example, the parasitic wasp Aphidius can be used along with the predatory midge Aphidoleteswhen aphid populations are high (see below for a complete list of Sound Horticulture’s aphid controls). Please contact us with your particular pest issue, and we will develop a biological control program that works for you!