By: Scott Eckert, County Extension Agent, Horticulture
I am currently baby sitting some eggplant transplants that will go into the Giving Garden soon. They are loaded with an insect known as aphid.
Aphids are pear shaped and small (about 1/8 of an inch long), soft-bodied, insects of many colors such as green, black, gray, yellow or red. Some are winged during certain times of the year. Generally, aphids can be recognized by their cornicles, a pair of tube-like structures projecting from the rear of their bodies.
Aphids feed by sucking sap from buds, leaves, twigs and developing fruit. Leaves may
be stunted and distorted and fruit may become misshapen. Aphids can also carry a
number of plant viruses.
Many aphid species excrete a sticky substance known as “honeydew” which usually
becomes black with sooty mold. Automobiles parked under trees with large aphid
populations will often be subjected to a “rain” of honeydew.
Nymphs hatch out in April with several generations occurring through the growing season.
Different generations may be winged or unwinged.
Aphids are usually controlled effectively by nature. Adverse weather conditions such as beating rains and low temperatures, as well as fungus diseases, insect predators and parasites keep the aphids in check.
Aphid enemies include lady beetles, syrphid fly larvae, aphis lions and small wasp
parasites known as braconids. Insecticide applications destroy beneficial insects as well as pests and leave trees or shrubs unprotected if pest resurgence occurs. Since beneficial insects play an important role in natural aphid control, try washing aphids away with a forceful stream of water before using insecticide sprays. If control measures are warranted, use horticultural oil, insecticidal soap, acephate (Acephate, Orthene),
malathion, cyfluthrin (Baythroid, Bayer Vegetable and Garden Insect Spray)
or permethrin (numerous trade names). Reapplication may be needed