Pest Problems Explained – APHIDS (Greenfly & Blackfly)

Aphids Description

Aphids are small soft bodied insects, which range in colour from yellow-green to dark-green, purple, brown and black dependant on species and the time of year, their bodies are pear shaped.  There are around 400 species in the UK each with their own range of host plants and usually requiring particular species of predators and parasitoids to control them. 

They live on plants in dense colonies and have both wingless and winged forms.

NB. Aphid cast skins are sometimes mistaken for whitefly! However, whitefly will fly away when disturbed, these cast skins will fall off or not move. Just shake the plant to find out which you have!

Aphid Damage

Aphids feed on plant sap and excrete a sticky “honeydew” on which growths such as sooty mould often develop.

They normally feed at shoot tips, which restricts and deforms plant growth.

Sooty mould reduces the amount of light reaching the plant leading to leaf yellowing and defoliation.

Aphids around the new growth on a plant.

Aphid Life Cycle:

Any aphid about to give birth is effectively three generations in one! Not only is the adult aphid about to give birth to immature aphids, but these already have the next generation of young developing inside them.

Young are produced at a rate of about 3 to 6 per day for several weeks. When aphid colonies become dense some wingless aphids will move off to find new places to produce their young.

The aphid colony will also start to produce a much higher proportion of winged aphids which are capable of finding new breeding sites further afield.

Aphids can generally over-winter in a greenhouse on weeds or crops.

Biological Control of Aphids

Aphids can be controlled biologically in greenhouses or conservatories by using their natural enemies such as Aphidius or Aphidoletes or a combination of both.

A Ladybird, Lacewing, Garden Predators Box can help to encourage beneficial insects to stay in your garden to help control aphids outside.