Aphids can be found on indoor and outdoor plants in clusters on new plant growth. There are more than 3,000 aphid species in the world with most being safe around your precious plants. Some aphids however can cause serious damage to the leaves of your plants if left untreated. Some aphid species carry diseases that can be passed from plant to plant when these pests feed.
To identify an aphid, look for an insect ⅛ inches in length with a pear-shaped soft body that is black, brown, red, or yellow in color. Also note that while most adult aphids do not have wings, if there is a heavy infestation it's not uncommon for them to grow a pair and fly. Adults will have two long antennas on top of their head and two long tubes called chronicles that are located at the rear area of their body.
When feeding aphids secrete a noticeable sticky fluid called honeydew. Sweet in taste, the honeydew attracts ants that protect the pests from their natural enemies and the sap attracts black mold which destroys the plant. The sweet sticky fluid can also be found on landscaping and trees where aphids are heavily infested.
The life cycle of these harmful insects begins during the spring months when females give birth to their young and within a week, the baby nymphs grow and carry on the reproduction process resulting in a heavy infestation problem.
Once the aphid colonies grow, some females develop wings and leave to begin reproducing on other plants.
Once the weather turns slightly cooler in early fall, the sexual aphid species begin to mate and produce more eggs. While mating is necessary for some, not all aphids need to mate in order to reproduce. In addition, some aphids will birth young nymphs instead of eggs.
To control aphids, one must pinch or prune leaves and other plant parts that have been heavily infested by the damaging insect.
Use a nozzle attached to a garden hose to blast away the bugs with a heavy stream of water.
Incorporate beneficial insects that are natural predators into your garden when conditions are ideal. Good bugs like lacewing and ladybugs are excellent predator choices for your garden pests.
If your garden or greenhouse is already heavily infested, you may need to incorporate beneficial bugs several times before seeing a reduction of bothersome aphid insects.
Look for a natural repellant containing essential oils, soaps, or other earth-friendly ingredients. Keep in mind, these products will need to be reapplied every so often, especially when weather conditions interfere.