Aphidoletes (Pronounced AY-FID-O-LEE-TEES) is a small midge, 2mm long and slender with long legs. Males have long, grey, “feathered” antennae and females have more simple antennae.
Most often seen are the larvae, which are maggot-like and about 3mm long when fully grown. They are yellow-orange to orange-red in colour and can be seen in aphid colonies.
Aphidoletes is used by commercial growers, usually in combination with Aphidius, to control aphids in greenhouses .
Aphidoletes Life Cycle
Aphidoletes adults feed on aphid honeydew and are active at dusk and during the night. During the day they rest hanging in cobwebs in dark corners. The bright orange-red eggs are laid among or near to aphid colonies. Females lay up to 100 eggs in their lifetime (about a week).
After 2 to 3 days, eggs hatch into minute larvae. They are voracious predators and will kill and eat many aphids until fully grown just a week after hatching. Even a small larva can paralyse and feed from a fully-grown aphid.
When fully grown the larvae fall to the ground, burrow into the soil and spin cocoons that they reinforce with particles of soil. After a few days the larva begins to pupate.
In day length less than 15 hours, larvae do not pupate. Instead they go into “suspended animation”, until day length increases, at which time they re-awaken to complete development into Aphidoletes adults.
The complete life cycle takes about 3 weeks at 20ºC (68ºF) in the summer.
- Aphidoletes larvae are voracious and are better dealing with larger aphid colonies.
- They are generalist Aphid predators and attack many species of Aphids.
- It is best used from May to September.
- They cannot be stored, it needs to be used on the day of receipt.
- They are only suitable for use in a greenhouse or conservatory.
- Adults need a minimum night time temperature of 15ºC (60ºF) for egg laying. However, a temperature of 18ºC (64ºF) is desirable for at least a couple of hours a day. They prefer a relatively high humidity.
- They needs soil/compost in which to pupate. If the plants being treated are on a concrete floor, they will not be able to complete their life cycle so repeat introductions may be needed.
- Aphidoletes are harmless to children, pets and wildlife.