Aphids are insects that feed on sap of various plants. They cause damage to the leaves and eventually kill them off completely. These pests are common in North America, but they have become increasingly prevalent throughout Europe and Asia. In fact, there was once a time when these bugs were considered harmless and even beneficial to many crops due to their feeding activity which helps break down nutrients in the soil, thus increasing crop yields. However, overuse of pesticides has caused the population explosion of these pests.

The problem with treating aphids is that it does not eradicate all the infestations, leaving behind a small number of resistant ones. The resistance factor is what makes treating aphids so difficult. There are several methods used to treat aphids, but none work very well because some treatments do not eliminate all the resistant insects and others leave behind a few susceptible insects instead.

Honeydew: Honeydew is a sticky substance produced by certain types of aphids. When the insect feeds on the sap of a plant, it produces honeydew. This substance causes damage to the leaves and eventually kills them off completely. Honeydew can be removed from trees using chemicals or mechanical means such as hand picking.

If treated manually, it takes at least two weeks before results are seen.

Aphid treatments: There are several types of aphid treatments. These include biological, chemical, and physical methods. Some treatments work better than others.

Biological controls are living organisms used to kill off the insect pests. These include viruses, bacteria, and other diseases that infect and kill aphids. Biological controls work well because they do not harm the environment, but only target specific insects. Unfortunately, the virus cannot pass through mating, so not all the aphids will be killed.

Other biological controls that do not target aphids can harm other insects and plants.

The most common chemical treatments for aphids are insecticidal soaps and horticultural oils. These types of treatments work on contact, but only kill the insects that it comes in contact with. It does not kill the resistant ones and all the susceptible ones are killed as well, causing a shortage of food.

Physical controls such as hand picking and the use of barriers can keep aphids from infesting a plant. This is important when only a few plants are infected because it is easier to keep them from spreading to other plants rather than treating them.

There are several integrated approaches that can help control aphids. One such treatment includes the use of natural enemies such as parasites and predators. This involves letting a natural predator do all the work.

Sources & references used in this article:

Releases of a natural flightless strain of the ladybird beetle Adalia bipunctata reduce aphid-born honeydew beneath urban lime trees by STE Lommen, TC Holness, AJ van Kuik, PW de Jong… – BioControl, 2013 – Springer

Woolly and green apple aphids: Field trials with new materials in orchard near Watsonville indicate same timing of spray treatment controls both pests by H Madsen, J Bailey – California Agriculture, 1958 – calag.ucanr.edu

Apple Aphids by D Alston, M Murray, M Reding – 2010 – digitalcommons.usu.edu

The effects of spray chemicals on local dispersal of woolly apple aphid by HF Madsen, SC Hoyt – Journal of Economic Entomology, 1957 – academic.oup.com

An unusual outbreak of aphids on pine by CH Hoffmann – Journal of Economic Entomology, 1945 – academic.oup.com

Interactions in entomology: aphids, aphidophaga and ants in pecan orchards by JD Dutcher, PM Estes… – Journal of Entomological …, 1999 – meridian.allenpress.com

Cascading effects of a highly specialized beech-aphid–fungus interaction on forest regeneration by SC Cook-Patton, L Maynard, NP Lemoine, J Shue… – PeerJ, 2014 – peerj.com

Palm aphid control on’Malayan dwarf’coconut palms by JA Reinert, NL Woodiel – Florida Entomologist, 1974 – JSTOR

An integrated insect control program for street trees by W Olkowski, C Pinnock, W Toney, G Mosher… – California …, 1974 – calag.ucanr.edu

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