It seems that the cooler weather and moisture have disappeared and we’ve moved into sweltering temperatures. While it will be nice to dry out a bit, expect pest populations to be on the rise. One to watch for is aphids as their populations can increase rapidly.
Aphids are small, soft-bodied insects with “tailpipes” (better known as cornicles) coming off the tip of the abdomen. Aphids come in a variety of colors and may or may not have wings. They have an incomplete life cycle (egg- nymph- adult) with the nymphs looking similar to the adults but smaller.
These insects have piercing-sucking mouthparts and will insert them into the plant to suck up plant juices. Aphid damage can lead to yellowing, curling and/ or stunting of the plant. Aphids are often found on the underside of leaves or along the stem of the plant. Sometimes they can be found on the plant roots.
Aphids are also honeydew producers. Honeydew is a sticky, sweet substance that may look shiny on the foliage of the plant. Honeydew can also lead to a secondary plant problem called sooty mold. Sooty mold is a fungus that grows on honeydew areas and if you see it on your plants, then you need to look for and manage the honeydew producing insect.
If you discover aphids, you can try a jet of high pressure water to dislodge them from the plant. If that doesn’t help, then you can try less toxic pesticides such as insecticidal soap, horticultural oil, pyrethrins or azadirachtin. They can also be killed with synthetic formulations. Please be sure to read the label of the product you choose to apply properly.