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Oleander Aphids (Aphis nerii)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Oleander Aphids

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Image Credit: Jerry A. from Austin, TX
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The rapid breeding and fast development of the tiny Oleander Aphid contributes to its status as a huge pest on ornamental flowers.

Updated: 01/04/2022; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
The first sighting of a yellow-orange cluster of Oleander Aphids should put a gardener on the defensive. They feed on the plant juices of oleander, milkweed, butterfly weed, and wax plants - all popular plants in homes and butterfly gardens. Quick to reproduce during their short lives, Oleander Aphids need little time to infest a plant.

Oleanders are a popular ornamental flowering plant in southeastern states like Florida. Plant nurseries can lose product and profit because of an infestation. The aphid's presence ruins the beauty of the oleander because it creates a sticky 'honeydew' on the stems, which can eventually turn black with mold. Oleander Aphids use their mouthparts to poke into the plant stem and then siphon plant juices, damaging the plant's overall health. The ends of branches can deform and wilt as a result of this constant feeding. Other plants near infested ones are also at risk because the aphids can spread a plant virus, further impacting nurseries or gardens. Natural predators of the Oleander Aphid include certain kinds of parasitic wasps, Lady Beetles, Lacewings, and Hoverflies. Insecticide use to control aphid infestations is effective, but care must be taken in choosing one that will not also harm beneficial insects needed to pollinate flowers.©InsectIdentification.org

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General Characteristics

Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Harmful insect icon
Jumping insect icon

Taxonomic Hierarchy

Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Hemiptera
        Family: Aphididae
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          Genus: Aphis
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            Species: nerii

Identifying Information

Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Aphis nerii
Other Name(s): Milkweed Aphids
Category: True Bug
Size (Adult; Length): 1mm to 4mm (0.03" to 0.15")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: yellow; black
Descriptors: lime; lemon; citron; tiny; cluster; congregation; small; jumping; milkweed; harmful

Relative Size Comparison

Typical Size Between 1mm (0.0in) and 4mm (0.2in)
Lo: 1mm
Md: 2.5mm
Hi: 4mm

Territorial Map*

U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Oleander Aphids may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Oleander Aphids. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.
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