Learn to Identify and Eliminate Aphids on Your Indoor Plants
Opt for organic, non-chemical controls whenever possible
The Spruce / Phoebe Cheong
Aphids are tiny sucking insects from the insect family Aphididae. The group includes roughly 5,000 different species, with several hundred that may be a problem for agriculture and gardening. Adult aphids are pear-shaped, measuring less than 1/8 inch in length. The most common aphids on houseplants are the light green ones (pear aphids), but aphids can also be found colored pink, white, grey and black. Additionally, winged aphids can appear when colonies are established and fly to infect new plants. Juvenile aphids (nymphs) look like smaller versions of the adults.
How Aphids Damage Plants
Aphid infestations tend to develop quickly, and the insects are highly mobile: they rapidly travel from one plant to another. In the outdoor garden, aphid colonies are often tended by ants, which feed on aphid honeydew— a sugary liquid that is secreted by aphids as they feed on sap. Indoors, aphids spread between plants by flying or crawling.
Aphids cause damage by sucking sap from new growth on plants. They tend to cluster at the growth end of plants and attach themselves to the soft, green stems. As a result, the new foliage may look crinkled or stunted, with the aphids usually plainly visible around the stem. If the infestation is bad enough, the plant will begin to drop leaves. Finally, like mealy bugs, the honeydew secreted by aphids can encourage the growth of sooty mold and fungus.
The Aphid Lifecycle
Outside, aphid eggs survive the winter by attaching to woody growth. In the spring, the eggs hatch into females. The females give birth to nymphs without mating, and these nymphs rapidly mature into adults (in about 10 days). Males are born in the fall and begin to mate with the females to produce eggs in preparation for the long winter. Indoors, however, there is no winter to slow their reproduction, and female aphids can continue to produce nymphs all year without pause. Thus, the aphid population can quickly get out of control on indoor plants.
Preventing and Dealing With Aphids
Like most pests, the best control for aphids is defensive. Healthy, vigorous plants are less susceptible to infestation than weak, under potted, and stressed plants. As a general rule, if you make sure your plants are healthy, you’re less likely to attract these annoying critters in the first place.
If you see aphids on your indoor plants, there are many control options, most of them non-chemical.Learn how to identify and control pesky aphids on your indoor plants to prevent further damage and keep them from coming back. ]]>