The aphid and the garden

The aphid and the garden

Ruth Sellers May 6, 2019

There are many occasions when the grower encounters pests, fungi or other problems to solve during cultivation, in this case, we will see how to eliminate the aphid, scientifically called Aphididae.

What is the aphid and how does it reproduce?

The aphid is an insect of small dimensions, has variable measures although they do not usually measure more than a couple or three millimetres, which live in colonies and feed on the sap of the plants. It is undoubtedly one of the most common pests that can be found in both home and professional crops appearing in flowering plants, either weeds as well as well-cared-for plants daily.

It is part of a very broad family of insects, the Hemiptera of which are known about 84,500 different species, being parasites that require a host to survive.

There are different colours, the best-known aphid is the green aphid, which attacks the most common vegetables found in home gardens as in the case of tomatoes, lettuce, peppers. It should also be noted that it will attack fruit trees, citruses, such as lemon, orange and other thorny shrubs such as rosebushes, so we can say that the aphid adapts to all types of vegetables, whether ornamental plants, fruit trees, horticultural plants, shrubs and also weeds. The reproduction of the aphid is quite complicated since the plague can evolve differently. Everything begins in the founding aphids, which are females and who are going to procreate all the plague and its evolution.

We can say that there are different types of aphids in the same colony and that each one has its vital function for the development of the species, and that is that as Darwin said, either you evolve and adapt or you die and disappear, it is clear that in this case, the aphids have evolved widely devising a survival method of the species that becomes a puzzle head.

After the laying of the founding aphid, which does not need to mate to reproduce and is born from an egg-laying made at the end of last season, during the fall, are born the rest of aphids that will expand the plague, female aphids and males.

Individuals are paired, or reproduce by parthenogenesis and result in new aphids and so on to create winged aphids which colonize other plants to expand the species, as long as the host plant is dying.

Aphids and ants

The relationship between ants and aphids is well known. Ants do not feed on plants, they are not sucking insects but they feed on faeces or excretions that secrete the aphids after feeding.

Then we can say that when in plant ants are seen, almost we can be to the 100% sure that we will find aphid in the plants. Ants are related to aphids at different levels. They protect the aphids as if they were a shepherd dog, protecting their cattle from external intrusions from other insects that can kill the aphids.

The reason is simple, when feeding of the excretions of the aphids, the ants adopt the role of protectors, and as if it were a bodyguard, the ants face the bugs, because after all that they do is protect their food source.

This reciprocity is nothing new, what is new and has been discovered recently is that the interaction between aphid and ant can also be different, much more harmful to the ant than to the aphid. It has been discovered that aphids, flat, can deceive ants by pretending to be ant larvae. When the ants detect the smell of the aphid, they associate it with the smell of an ant larva so that they return it to its location, the room of larvae. In this room the aphid begins to suck the “blood” of the larva, causing great low verse the population of ants.

Consequences of the aphid attack

As we have commented, the aphid feeds on the sap of the plants, when the plant dies the aphid evolves and goes in search of new hosts.

As the plant is consumed, they leave clues about what is really happening to them. On the one hand, the excretion of molasses that expels and can cause different problems.

The bold and the aphid

The first is bold, a saprophytic fungus born from the faeces of aphids, among other insects. This can make an act of presence when there are not many ants that can eat all the molasses secreted by the aphid. They can be found more easily in fruit trees, lemon, cherry, or without fruit as is the case of laurel. Some products treat this fungus very well, in a natural way, and eradicates it in a short time as is the case of NC Pharma Olein.

It is important not to let the bold spread throughout the plant or tree because it can affect the photosynthesis of plants, which slows down their entire metabolism.

Slowing vegetative growth

By feeding on the plant’s sap, this is seen with a lower amount of energy that ends up translating into a considerable reduction in the rate of growth of the plants. As the quality and production of the fruits of the infected plant has been reduced, its productivity has been drastically reduced.

Where before 20 big tomatoes would have come out, now with the aphid if they come out 5 and of a measured small size, one can be happy, everything will depend on the density of the plague. For these cases and to make the planes are better protected against external aggressions can be used phytostrengthening products such as Superkukulus, tribe certifier or NC Pharma Nemic.

Deformation of leaves and plant parts

As the aphid apart from feeding on the sap of the plant also secretes, in it, some toxins that the plant does not withstand very well. When the aphids attack the leaves, these are marked with yellowish pecks that denote the suction of the sap by the aphid. In the case of the new leaves, these can be born folded or twisted on themselves. This fact is given by the toxicity of the aphid’s saliva deposited in the metabolism of plants.

Viruses and aphids

The aphid, being a sap-sucking insect, can also contract viruses, these do not directly affect them, but they can transmit them and affect other healthy plants. As we have already mentioned, the aphid can evolve quickly when it observes that the life of the host plant is waning. At that moment, the colony modifies and new individuals appear, but this time winged.

These winged aphids can extract a virus that is embedded in a plant, through its sap, stay in the organism of the aphid and when it moves to another planet to be colonized when sucking its sap again, they can pass the virus from the first host plant. We can say that the organization of the aphid is purely invasive and 100% conquering.

Aphid prevention methods

There are several methods to prevent aphids, although it can often be difficult to prevent them from being present in the garden.

  • Plants well fed, hydrated and without weeds around them. Many are the weeds in which the aphid can stay until it finds a higher quality host, as in the case of cabbages where we find a specific type of aphid that receives its name, the cabbage aphid, very difficult to eradicate once it has settled on the plant.
  • Prevention with other aphid predatory insects. Several insects feed on other insects such as ladybugs. The ladybugs or coccinellids are predators that usually stay in the middle as long as they have food, so a good option is to introduce this type of insect in our crops and thus retain the evolution of the aphids. The more ladybugs, the better.
  • There are also other insects such as syrphids, which usually appear when there are flowering plants as they liberate the nectar but also eat the aphid making clean maintenance on the plants.
  • Another important group of natural predators are the swede mites, these are used for the ecological control of pests in greenhouses and their diet includes mites and aphids, undoubtedly a very good biological control tool. They are parasitic in nature so that they put their larva in the adult and once the egg hatches and becomes larva it feeds on its host, in this case, the aphid.

Home remedies against aphids

Several home remedies are known that one can make at home independently, they work well but it must be said that it is always better a specific product to eradicate the plague than a product created by ourselves. What happens is that many times these remedies can be used as preventive and in case of having the pest already stalking the plants I would recommend to use specific biological products for this type of pest.

Among the best-known remedies we find:

  • Garlic Infusion
  • Onion Infusion
  • Nettle Infusion
  • Tanacetum Infusion
  • Chamomile Infusion
  • Plants that attract aphid predators: Mint, Dill, Yarrow (achillea millefolium), Calendula, Wonder and Basil

Specific products to eradicate aphids

Home remedies are a good option, but sometimes they may fall short of power, either by concentration or application or for other reasons, such as not having the time needed to make it and macerate the products well.

In these cases, we must have within reach biological products that help us in the control and eradication of the plague.

1. Plant extracts of Chrisantenum Cinerariafolium (Pyrethrins)

  • Ecotec Kenpyr
  • Tec-fort

2. Potassium salts

  • Oleat bio de Trabe, against soft-shell insects. It is used applying spray on the leaves and backside avoiding its use during the strongest sun hours of the day as well as avoiding applications during strong wind.

3. Other products against aphids

  • Diatomaceous Earth
  • Neem oil (preventive/curative)
  • Adhesive strips catch insects
  • Horsetail

Hopefully, it could have been useful to keep your plants free of aphids, clean and healthy to enjoy them for a long time, as well as maintaining a biological garden, free of pesticides, to obtain the best quality of the fruits harvested, remember that we are what we eat!

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