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Low to moderate numbers are usually not harmful to crops. Severe infestation can cause leaves and shoots to curl, wilt or yellow and stunted plant growth. Overall, a general decline in plant vigor will also be noticed. The honeydew secreted by the aphids as they feed on plant tissues causes an additional infection with opportunistic fungi in many cases. The development of mold on the leaves indicates this. The honeydew attracts ants. Even small numbers of aphids can transmit viruses from plant to plant in a persistent way. Optimal conditions for their growth are dry and warm climates.
Aphids are small, soft bodied insects with long legs and antennae. Their size ranges from 0.5 to 2 mm and the color of their body can be yellow, brown, red or black, depending on the species. Their aspect ranges from the wingless varieties, that are generally predominant, to the winged, waxy or woolly types. They usually settle and feed in clusters on the underside of well-fed young leaves and shoot tips. They use their long mouthparts to pierce tender plant tissues and suck out fluids. Low to moderate numbers are not damaging to the crops. After an initial invasion in late spring or early summer, the aphid population usually diminishes naturally due to natural enemies. Several species carry plant viruses that can lead to the development of other diseases.
Beneficial insects such as predators ladybugs, lacewings, soldier beetles and parasitoid wasps are important agents to control populations of aphids. In case of mild infestation, use a simple soft insecticidal soap solution or solutions based on plant oils. Aphids are also very susceptible to fungal diseases when it is humid. A simple spray of water on affected plants can also remove them.
Always consider a integrated approach with preventive measures together with biological treatments if available. Insecticides containing cypermethrin, imidacloprid, chlorpyrifos or carbosulfan can be used as foliar spray against the pest.
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