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  • Aphids - (Aphis spp.)

    Aphids - (Aphis spp.)

    Aphids may seem too small to bother with, but many of these small insects can together become a mighty destructive plant foe.

    Staff Writer (9/6/2017): Tiny and varied in color, these insects suck the juice of plants to the point where the plants dehydrate and possibly die. They also spread viruses that can kill plants. They are a popular nemesis to gardeners and farmers when they form large colonies on vegetation. Some species of lady beetles, moth larvae, and wasps eat them, however, some aphids are toxic giving them an advatange against predators. Most female aphids are wingless, but winged ones will return to their original plant after starting populations elsewhere. They can be mechanically removes (killed by hand) but small size and quick escape make it a inefficient means of removing them.

    Aphids come in a variety of species. Colors vary by species but popular ones are either green, yellow, or white. A group called "woolly aphids" are covered in a white, waxy substance that resembles cotton or fuzz. All types of aphids pierce the plant at its leaves and stems. They digest plant juices and excrete a sticky, sugary 'honeydew' liquid which may attract other garden insects. Ants have been seen shepherding aphids and harvesting the sweet honeydew for themselves and their own colonies. The honeydew can also become black with mold and look like a layer of dark ash on the leaves and stems, ruining the beauty of any ornamental plants they inhabit.

    Small populations are generally not a major problem for gardeners, however, they are really fast at reproducing. Large populations can take over a crop if not controlled. Many gardeners buy containers of live lady beetles (ladybugs) to spread over their garden in an attempt to curb population growth of aphids; success is varied as lady beetle may leave the area after release before making an impact. Recognizing and allowing fire beetles and parasitic wasps to visit the infested plants can also aid in reducing aphid numbers and subsequent plant damage. Chemical pesticides that specifically kill aphids also exist, but will likely require multiple applications because they may only be effective at certain life stages and colonies often consist of different developmental ages.

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    Details of the:

    Category: True Bug
    Common name: Aphids
    Scientific Name: Aphis spp.

      Kingdom: Animalia
       Phylum: Arthropoda
        Class: Insecta
         Order: Hemiptera
          Family: Aphididae
           Genus: Aphis
            Species: spp.

    Identifying Colors: green; black; yellow

    Additional Descriptors: spikes, tiny, green, white, jump, harmful, flying

    North American Reach (Though Not Limited To*): Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming;Alberta; British Columbia; Manitoba; New Brunswick; Newfoundland and Labrador; Nova Scotia; Ontario; Prince Edward Island; Quebec; Saskatchewan; Mexico

    * Keep in mind that an insect's reach is not limited by lines on a map and therefore may appear in areas/regions/states beyond those listed above.

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