Aphids thrive on the underside of leaves and flower petals. Aphids are pear shaped, come in a variety of colors and have two cornicles, resembling tailpipes, on their abdomen. They reproduce without mating within a week of being born, so the population can increase quickly and dramatically. Aphids feed on fruit tree and plant parts, which they eliminate as a clear, sticky waste, called honeydew. Their presence is indicated by the honeydew and the ants that feed on it. Damage to fruit trees and plants includes off-color foliage, twisted and curled leaves, poor plant growth and branch dieback. You can attack an aphid problem in a variety of ways.
Things You'll Need
- Garden hose
- Insecticidal soap
- All-season horticultural oils
- Pump sprayer
- Parasitic wasps
Exercise patience when you first discover the presence of aphids. Pursue a course of treatment that begins with the simplest to implement and the least invasive to the environment and escalate only as necessary. Natural enemies of aphids, such as lady beetles and parasitic wasps, will thin the population. Heavy rains can wash the aphids from the fruit trees and plants.
Spray high-pressure water from a garden hose onto the underside of the leaves to dislodge the aphids. Repeat this process several times weekly to control the population.
Wash the plants with insecticidal soap according to the package directions. Insecticidal soap is a safe, highly refined form of liquid soap that washes aphids, honeydew buildup and other debris off plant leaves without harming naturally beneficial insects. Wash the soap off with a forceful spray of water from a garden hose.
Spray all-season horticultural oils onto trees with a pump sprayer as soon as the aphids appear. Horticultural oil is labeled as an insecticide; use it according to the label directions. The oil works by suffocating the insects, as well as disrupting the development of their eggs.
Purchase and release natural enemies of aphids, such as ladybugs and parasitic wasps, into the orchard or garden. These insects feed off of aphids or their eggs and help regulate the infestation. Follow manufacturer recommendations regarding the number needed to populate the orchard or garden, as well as package directions for releasing the beneficial insects.
Tips & Warnings
- Insecticidal soap, horticultural oil, ladybugs and parasitic wasps are available at garden centers.
- Use eye and respiratory protection when spraying any pesticides or chemicals into the orchard or garden.
- Do not use liquid detergent mixed with water as a substitute for insecticidal soap. Liquid detergent can leave a residue on the plant that will inhibit its growth or kill it.
- Broad-spectrum insecticides kill beneficial insects, as well as aphids.
- Photo Credit reed aphids image by Adrian Hillman from Fotolia.com