Aphids on plum trees are a wreaking havoc on the trees and cause a general health and productivity decline. These tiny, sap-sucking pests cause severe harm in numbers.
Thankfully there are several ways to control them and limit their effects. We’ll take a look at some of their impact on plum plants and the best treatment methods to use in the article below.
- What Are The Causes of Aphids on Plum Trees?
- How Can You Get Rid of Aphids on Plum Trees?
What Are The Causes of Aphids on Plum Trees?
The causes of aphids on plum trees are seeing the fruit as a food source, or having a virus in the tree that they get attracted to. It is also because of contamination with molds or honeydew, and lastly, it can also be because of the lack of predators.
– Food Source
Aphids rob plum plants of their essential nutrients by sucking the sap from their leaves and new shoots with their piercing mouth, and they would begin to eat the fruit because it is rich in the nutrients that they require and get attracted to. This nutrient deficiency caused by aphids can cause weakness and undeveloped branches on your plum plants, causing them to appear stunted.
Treating an aphid infestation early is best because these pests can utterly gut your trees if left unchecked. Some aphid species may go through their entire life process in a week or less in warmer climates, whereas their development may take longer in cooler areas.
They usually develop male and female sexual forms towards the end of the growing season, when the location is favorable, and in this case, the nutrients they need are a place for them. These forms mate and lay eggs that overwinter to start the next generation. It’s crucial to remember that several circumstances can affect aphid lifespans and that each species can have different lifespans.
The feeding action of aphids on fruit trees will take away many of the vital nutrients the plant requires for growth and flower production. By piercing the plant’s tissue and extracting sap, aphids consume the tree’s resources, including sugars, amino acids, and minerals.
The affected tree will become weaker as a result of this nutrient loss and will find it more difficult to devote resources to the growth and development of flower buds or fully-grown flowers.
– The Tree Has a Virus
It’s very easy for plants to get contaminated with viruses and diseases, even more so when pests like aphids are involved. These pesky pests will serve as carriers and facilitate the quick spread of diseases like brown rot among your trees.
Due to their fast reproduction and short life cycles, these pests populate places very fast, which allows them to carry viruses and diseases from infected trees to healthy ones in little time. If you notice deformed plum fruits on your tree, it is almost always a result of pests, and you would see that because there is a virus already and the tree is vulnerable already, so they would infest in such a fast way. Plum aphids are the common culprits in this case.
Their feeding actions cause plum fruits to look deformed and unappealing, reducing their visual appeal and market value. As they continue to feed on the sap of your trees, their population will grow extensively, which will give them more damaging power.
– Contaminated with Mold and Honeydew
Another effect or problem aphids cause on fruit trees, like plums, is mold and honeydew. As they feed, they would begin to secrete a sweet, sticky substance known as honeydew, and attract others of their kind.
This honeydew acts as a growing medium for black, sooty mold, which can coat tree leaves and prevent photosynthesis, reducing the tree’s overall vitality. Consequently, other insect pests will also seek out this sweet, sticky substance, leaving you with a bigger problem to manage.
If you notice them on your plum plants, you will most likely see them clustered on the underside of the leaves. This is where they feed and suck out sap from, eventually causing the affected leaves to curl or become deformed, as a result of infestation due to their honeydew.
These leaf curl aphids damage the structure of the leaves by extracting the plant sap with their piercing mouth parts, leaving the damaged leaves excessively twisted and deformed as the infestation develops. Over time, the leaves may become yellow and unable to perform the basic act of photosynthesis.
– Lack of the Needed Parasites
As previously mentioned, aphids produce honeydew, a sweet liquid that draws ants, wasps, and other insects. In exchange for honeydew, ants, in particular, are known to defend aphids against parasites and other natural predators.
The mutually beneficial interaction between ants and aphids may encourage the attack of other pests, posing further problems for the health of your fruit trees. However, when there are no parasites or predators that will come and eat them, this is when they will start to grow even more and multiply.
How Can You Get Rid of Aphids on Plum Trees?
You can get rid of aphids on plum trees by introducing predators and pruning the impacted parts. You should also use insecticidal soap, spray some neem oil, remove them by hand, mix in some homemade ingredients, and properly fertilize the tree.
When aphids attract other pests to your plants, it’s like a compounded problem. However, getting rid of these additional pests can be as simple as getting rid of the primary pests, which are these pests in this case.
– Introduce Predators
One easy way to do this is by introducing natural enemies, and for this, you should also notice that many insects can be beneficial, such as ladybugs and lacewings, under this category. These insects get rid of aphids by feeding on their eggs and larvae, drastically reducing their population over time.
Many of the elimination methods you use on aphids will mostly work on other pests, such as ants and wasps. In addition, after you have done so, you can also wipe honeydew-affected leaves with alcohol to remove the sugary liquid these pests are after, and this way, you will see them gone.
– Prune the Impacted Parts
It’s important to use sterilized cutting tools for all the pruning you’ll be doing to prevent disease transfer or spread. There’s no reversing deformed fruits. However, what you can do is to prevent the further spread of aphids to unaffected areas of your trees or, even worse, to your other plum plants.
First, you need to prune the heavily infested branches to get rid of the high aphid concentration. You can then attempt to wash the less stubborn insects with a strong jet of water. On the other hand, if your trees are already infected with viruses or diseases, it’s best to isolate them if you can move them, and make sure to prune them as such. If not, start by trimming the affected branches and leaves to prevent the further spread of the disease or virus.
In addition to this, when you notice deformed or curly leaves on your plum plants, the most likely culprits are aphids. The first thing you need to do is carefully prune and remove infested leaves, especially those curled or distorted beyond recovery. This helps to reduce the aphid population and prevent the spread of the infestation. After this, you can go in with any treatment methods to completely eliminate the pests.
– Use Insecticidal Soaps
Make sure to target the underside of leaves, where aphids are usually concentrated. This should clear out most of the pests. You can also use insecticidal or liquid soaps to treat affected areas and prevent pests from recurring, but you must be sure to repeat these steps until all traces of the pests are gone.
However, in such a case, you will need a more sophisticated approach if the infestation is large. In a situation where you have multiple colonies of aphids on your plum plants, you can apply plant-safe insecticides to get rid of them.
If all else fails to remove these pesky pests from your plants, insecticides or chemical pesticides will get rid of them in no time, as part of an insecticidal solution. Just ensure that whatever you’re using is safe for your plants and that you follow the instructions.
– Spread Neem Oil
You will need to disinfect and treat the cut areas with alcohol to prevent disease spread and contamination. To get rid of the disease-spreading aphids themselves, you can apply neem oil or other horticultural oils to the affected areas.
There are many suitable insecticides that you can use for plum plants, including spinosad, permethrin, and fenvalerate. These work great combined with other chemicals like fungicides, sulfur, and malathion to get rid of aphids as well as other pests. The most common treatments include the use of alcohol, pesticides, insecticides, horticultural oils, and natural predators. Any of these pest elimination methods will rid your plants of aphids and prevent future infestation.
– Remove them by Hand
The sure way to eliminate mold and honeydew from plum plants is to get rid of the insects producing them. If the population of aphids is low, you can hand-pick them and squash them one by one to get rid of them, but make sure that you protect your hands with the right type of gloves, and dump the bugs.
The main thing that causes flowering disruption, when there’s an aphid infestation, is their feeding habits. To counter the effect of these pests on your trees, you need first to get rid of them using any suitable elimination method, which is handpicking them, or even placing sticky traps.
– Mix in Homemade Ingredients
A few household ingredients can be put together to make the best homemade recipe for eliminating aphids. This mixture is as effective as other store-bought pesticides. You only need spoons of insecticidal or liquid dish soap and some water.
Once you have the mixture ready, you can put it in a spray bottle to make the application easier. The effectiveness of this mixture is in targeting the areas where the aphids are, especially the undersides of leaves; this way, you would target them directly.
– Give the Right Fertilizer
After this, consider using supplementary nutrients from fertilizers to boost your plant’s strength, so it can channel the necessary resources to produce more healthy flowers. Consider all the care you’re giving to your trees and make sure they’re adequate, to help your trees along with the flowering process, and as it grows back, it will thrive
While an aphid attack on your plums can have terrible effects, it’s possible to manage the pest population and counter the damage they cause effectively, so let’s recap some of the things we mentioned above:
- The feeding actions of aphids can cause your trees to become stunted growth, deformed fruits, curly leaves, mold and honeydew, and secondary pest infestations.
- Honeydew is a sweet, sticky substance aphids produce, which attracts other insect pests.
- Aphids promote the quick spread of viruses and diseases, so when you are introducing beneficial predators to your garden is one way of eliminating them.
- You can boost your plant’s strength and direct more resources and nutrients to flower production by using adequate fertilizers.
Pest invasion in gardens is somewhat inevitable, so it’s important to keep that in mind for panic not to set in. If you have an aphid invasion in your plum garden, you can use this as a guide to learn how to eliminate them.
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