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Aphids are small, soft-bodied, pear-shaped insects that cluster densely on tender new growth and the undersides of leaves to suck plant juices. Plants often can withstand some aphid feeding with no adverse effect, but badly infested plants develop distorted growth and leaves may turn yellow or drop off.
One of the reasons aphids can reproduce so quick is that at certain times of year, female aphids give birth to live young. In just a few weeks these young reach maturity and give birth — a short cycle of reproduction that results in an exponential population growth!
Sometimes it takes close inspection to discover an aphid infestation. They blend in so well with foliage that you may not spot them at first glance, even though hundreds are present. Many species of aphids feed on home garden plants; these insects range in color from pale green, pink, or black to red or yellow. Size is typically 1/16"–1/4". Adult aphids are generally wingless, but winged adults will appear when overcrowded. Immature aphids (nymphs) closely resemble adults.
Both adults and nymphs feed on a wide variety of plants, including most edibles and ornamentals. In small numbers aphids do little damage, but they are able to reproduce rapidly and can quickly become a more serious problem. Also, as they feed, aphids secrete a sweet fluid called honeydew that can attract ants; sooty black fungus may grow on coated leaves.
Aphids feed on both outdoor plants and houseplants. Indoors, inspect plants weekly to catch and deal with an aphids before they get out of control.
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Last updated: 2/14/19
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