Aphids life cycle is essential to understand to get rid of an infestation. These bugs begin their life cycle in early spring and carry on reproducing until a peak is reached in late summer.
We have compiled this researched-backed guide to help you understand this process better. You will also learn about all the crucial pesticides that help disrupt this lifecycle and save the plant.
- What Is the Aphids Life Cycle?
- What Are the Methods That Disrupt Aphid’s Life Cycle?
- How Do Aphids Damage Plants During Their Life Cycle?
What Is the Aphids Life Cycle?
The aphid’s life cycle is made of two different phases. It begins with the asexual phase in which eggs develop into females that produce young for about 15 generations. Then the sexual phase begins, in which eggs are laid after the mating of male and female aphids.
– Asexual Phase of Aphid’s Sexual Life Cycle
The sexual phase of an aphid’s life begins early during the spring season. This is when female nymphs called stem mothers hatch from eggs laid during the previous season.
What happens, in this case, is that these stem mothers are wingless female aphids, and their job is to produce and give birth to young aphids asexually for the rest of the summer. These female nymph aphids are unique in two respects.
Firstly, they do not mate with male aphids for fertilization and produce young through parthenogenesis. Secondly, they do not lay eggs but give birth to young ones through viviparity. A single nymph can make up to 50 to 100 similar nymphs in just two weeks.
These nymphs also grow to become stem mothers, which continues for the rest of the summer. Over 15 such generations are produced on a single plant within one season. Eventually, there is a population explosion of female aphids on a plant, which signals the start of the sexual phase, so this will be thee way that they can start growing in their number.
– Sexual Phase of Aphid’s Life Cycle
Once the infested plant is overcrowded with the female aphid species and its health begins to decline, the sexual phase begins. Some of the young aphids born develop into adults with two large wings. These adults can fly off to nearby plants and spread the infestation.
Near the end of summer, young aphids are born to develop into winged males and females. These then mate and produce eggs after sexual fertilization. The eggs laid on the plant last all through winter until they hatch into female springs the following spring.
What Are the Methods That Disrupt Aphid’s Life Cycle?
The methods that disrupt aphid’s life cycle are using natural ingredients or chemical pesticides. You can introduce other insects that prey on aphids naturally as a form of biological insect control. In addition, you may also try natural pesticides that work best, including neem oil, vinegar, and milk.
– Biological Control
Aphid life cycles can also be disrupted by taking help from the natural enemies of aphids. These are the insects that are larger than aphids and prey on them. Luckily, most agents control are harmless for the host plant and can be used without worry.
Ladybirds are the most commonly used insects that help fight aphid infestations on host plants. For this, you may go ahead and consider any well-stocked home and gardening store will provide you with the correct quantity of ladybirds required to get rid of aphids.
Moreover, other biological agents you can take help from are parasitic wasps, hoverflies, and lacewings. You can go ahead and breed them with all ease, and when they find the aphids, they will attack them directly and stay because of the source of food; however, you must consider that this can take some time.
– Neem Oil Sprays
Neem oil is one of our best natural ingredients for disrupting the growth cycle of all aphids. Whether your plant is suffering from an infestation of green peach aphids or potato aphids, neem oil can help eliminate them all.
The key is to make an effective spray and use it weekly for at least a month. Make sure that you prepare it thee right way, because it can harm the plant that they are living on in a direct way, causing the oil to block the cells of the plant; hence, diluting is a necessary task.
Only a tablespoon of neem oil mixed with one gallon of water can significantly help control the aphid population. This mixture loses effectiveness after one day, so you must combine a new one each week. Add one tablespoon of liquid soap to help the oil mix well with water, because it acts as the emulsifying agent.
Milk is one kitchen item that helps treat aphids by disrupting the different stages of their lives. After a single application, it helps kill 40 percent of aphid eggs, larvae, and adult forms.
Pure milk is not the safest for use on houseplants and must be diluted with water first. Take an equal volume of milk and water and mix both of them to create an effective DIY pesticide, and you can also try to use some full fat milk so that it would suffocate the bugs.
– Vinegar and Water for Aphids
Half a cup of water mixed with half a cup of ordinary vinegar will help disrupt both phases of an aphid’s life. You do not need to procure industrial-grade vinegar, as regular household vinegar with a five percent acetic acid concentration is enough.
The, what you should do is put the mixed solution into a plastic spray bottle and use not more than once a week. Take advantage of the spots under the leaves where the majority of the pest population often hides.
– Insects Growth Regulators
Insect growth regulators disrupt the life cycles of both the ones with wings and wingless aphids. As a result, a significant decrease in the pest population is seen after just one application. However, be keen that so many options are available commercially, but our favorite must be methoprene.
Methoprene prevents the development of winged aphids from wingless ones. This results in the disarmament of the sexual phase of their life. When applied early in the spring, it keeps the eggs from hatching into female nymphs. Application early in spring will prevent an aphid infestation for the rest of the summer.
– Systemic Pesticides
These pesticides are effective late in summer when an aphid infestation is at its peak. They are better suited to outdoor plants because you can easily apply them over the soil. Imidacloprid is the active ingredient in most of these which is effective against most aphid varieties like green peach aphids and woolly aphids.
Carefully go through the instructions given on the label of these pesticides. They need to be poured directly on the soil around the plant stems while protecting the leaves.
However, don’t forget to that you also need to start wearing safety gloves and glasses during application. The plant absorbs systemic pesticides through its roots, killing aphids after they suck the sap.
How Do Aphids Damage Plants During Their Life Cycle?
Aphids damage plants during their life cycle by producing malnutrition. They feed off the plant’s sap, resulting in stunted growth, leaf yellowing, and white spots. Be mindful that they also secrete a goo-like substance called honeydew on leaves that attract mold.
– They Cause Plant Disfiguration
Aphids tend to puncture the surface of the plants through a piercing part of their mouth. They then use their mouths to suck sap flowing within the plants. This sap is rich in nutrition and provides food to the plant, and they will aim to weaken it as they absorb the nutrients out. The thing about aphids is that they are very hard to notice and multiply a lot in a short period.
A single infestation lasting from spring to summer produces more than 15 generations of aphids. All of these bugs feeding off the plant eventually cause it to weaken and disfigure. In such a case, you will see that the plant begins to show symptoms like drooping and yellowing of its foliage. The plant’s growth also becomes weakened, producing smaller leaves.
– The Appearance of White Spots on the Plant
Once the eggs of green peach aphids hatch into nymph form, they undergo four stages of development before becoming adults finally. After each step, they become more prominent and shed their old exoskeleton.
Be mindful that these exoskeletons are white and look like tiny dots on the plant’s surface. In a while, you may also see that the whole plant assumes a snowflake-like appearance that closely resembles a powdery mildew infection.
– Sticky Honeydew on the Plants
As aphids suck and feed on their host plant, they secrete their digestive juices, which are sticky in texture. Moreover, these pests do not easily digest the sugars in the plant’s sap. These sugars are secreted back on the plant’s surface in a sticky goo-like consistency called honeydew, and may harm the leaves.
As the aphids infestation progresses, eventually, entire leaves become coated with honeydew. You can feel the stickiness once you pass your fingers over the leaves. This material acts like a sticky glue that attracts dirt, cement, and other pests to the plant.
– Development of Mold
Honeydew is a very sticky form of aphid poop that contains plant sugars. This substance coats every inch of the plant within a few months of an aphid attack. In such a case, the mold spores are present, blown through the wind, land on honeydew, and get stuck there.
Sooty mold is the most common fungus that attacks a plant coated in honeydew. It does not affect a healthy plant at all unless an infestation occurs, and you will see how it uses the sugars in honeydew as a source of nutrition to grow and spread further.
The mycelia produced by sooty mold are black, hence their name. Within a short period, the black mold ends up covering entire surfaces of the leaves. Finally, it would block the proper penetration of sunlight and impacts photosynthesis and the development of the plant.
– By Transmitting Viruses
The worst thing about these bugs is that they are the most common vectors for plant viruses. They are known to transmit more than 200 different types of plant viruses, from an infected plant to a healthy one. While an aphid attack will not kill the plant unless severe, most plant viruses certainly will.
Even plants not infested by aphids are at risk of getting a viral infection. This is because the winged aphids will puncture many plants before settling on the one they like best. In short, the plant viruses like mosaic and blueberry shoe viruses are deadly and nearly impossible to treat, so you should tackle them from the beginning with the right measures.
We have so far discussed the various stages of an aphid’s life in great detail. Here is a brief recap of these stages given to sum it all up:
- All aphid species have two reproduction cycles in their lives; the sexual phase and the asexual phase.
- Eggs laid late in summer after the sexual cycle hatch early in SPR, marking-ark the beginning of the asexual cycle.
- During the asexual phase, female nymph aphids produce up to 15 generations of new aphids through parthenogenesis.
- You can use insect growth regulators and systemic pesticides to disrupt these stages.
Having a good grip on how aphid species reproduce and grow in number is essential because it helps you plan your treatment more effectively and efficiently
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