Aphids are common enemies of our garden plants. These tiny insects, barely 1/8 to 1/32 inch long, feed on the plant fluids by penetrating their long feeding tubes into the tender stems and leaves of the plant.
A small number of aphids feeding on the fluids of a garden plant might not damage the entire plant, but large aphid colonies could severely damage your garden plant.
Life cycle of aphids
Aphids attack garden plants usually during the warm months. During the warm season, aphids rapidly reproduce. It takes about 7 to 8 days for the nymph to develop into an adult aphid. An adult aphid could give birth to 80 aphids within a week. Controlling the rapidly growing aphid population is a challenge for most gardeners.
Damage caused by aphids
Yellowing and curling of leaves and poor growth of stems are the common signs of aphid attack. Aphids often secrete a sticky discharge known as honeydew. Mold fungus might grow on the honeydew, converting it into a dark mass. Some aphid species damage plants by injecting toxins in the leaves and shoots of the plant, further curtailing the growth of the plant.
Aphids, especially the winged species, might carry viruses from plant to plant, spreading viral plant diseases in a garden. Risk of aphid transmitted viral disease is greater in cucumber, squash, lettuce, bean, pumpkin, potato, beets and bok choy plants. Although leaves and shoots are the primary targets of aphids, these garden bugs might even attack roots. The lettuce root aphid is an aphid species that usually feeds on the roots of lettuce plants.
Commercial insecticides can be used for killing the aphids feeding on your garden plants. However, most chemical based insecticides kill beneficial insects along with aphids. It is therefore advisable to use organic insecticides for killing these pests. Neem oil made from the margosa leaves could effectively kill aphids living on your garden plants.
You can prepare a natural insecticide by blending two cups of water and one cup of vegetable oil with two teaspoons of a dish washing soap. Frequently spray this homemade insecticide on your plants in the evenings to prevent aphid growth. To drive aphids away from your garden plant garlic plants in your garden.