Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Problem Area - Plant Pests ... Aphids

Good Morning!
Welcome to my second post related to Problem Areas. 
Last week I started this off by focusing on Plant Pests that we all encounter in our gardens.
What exactly is a Plant Pest? 
A Plant Pest gains it's nutritional requirements from the host plant it feeds upon. 
There are various ways which it can gain it's sustenance but broadly speaking it either eats or sucks a plant's sap.
It's a good idea to take note of a pests life cycle as they are more vulnerable at certain stages.

I'm pretty sure that every gardener has encountered problems caused by Aphids.
These attack plants both outside and undercover. There are many types of Aphids which all have their preferred host plants and particular life cycles but today I am focusing on the one I find most common and encounter the most problems with them inside my Greenhouse. Green and Black aphids are the most common however you can also get them in orange, red and brown.

Photo from Google.

As mentioned earlier each type of Aphid has it's own life cycle. Aphids can breed at an extremely quick rate with each Aphid being able to start breeding at just a week old. They usually spend the Summer on one host plant moving to another for the Winter and you can usually find them on young plant growth as this is what they favour.

Aphids are sap sucking pests so any weakened or distorted growth can be a sign that a plant is undergoing an Aphid attack. This can lead to Virus Diseases being introduced to your plants as Aphids are carriers and help spread disease. Aphids are very common in nursery stock production so always check any new plants that you are considering buying for any signs of Aphids.

Photo from Google.

If like me you like to garden Organically there are a few things you can do -
* Check the undersides of plant foliage and if you find any, simply squash them with your fingers. You can wear gloves if your a little squeamish! 
* Encourage Natural Predators such as Ladybirds who will feed on many of the Aphids.
* Wash away the Aphids with a strong jet of water, however be careful doing this on delicate plants as you can end up blasting petals off!
* Avoid over feeding plants as this encourages soft growth with is particularly vulnerable to Aphids.

There is also Chemical control available.

I hope you have found this interesting and helpful if any of you come across this particular pest!

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