Aphids

Time to act:

Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov

There are many species of aphid, often with its own favourite host plants and particular life cycle. Greenfly and blackfly are the most familiar, but there are also yellow, red, orange and brown aphids. Aphids usually spend the summer on one plant, moving to a host plant to overwinter. They breed at an alarming rate - females can give birth to live young when only a week old. They are sap-sucking pests and the excess sap is excreted as honeydew. This sticky residue falls on to the lower leaves of the plant, attracting black sooty mould, which inhibits photosynthesis and deprives the plant of energy.

Symptoms

Young tender growth is vulnerable to aphid attack. These tiny insects (1mm-7mm long) are usually green or black and breed fast, smothering the plant. In severe cases, growth becomes distorted, leaves curl up, the plant weakens and can die.

Find it on

most plants

Advertisement

Organic

Natural predators, such as birds, earwigs, ladybirds, lacewings, hoverflies, ground beetles, spiders and parasitic wasps are a gardener's best allies. Some of these are available as biological controls, however, they need time to tackle the problem, so don't expect them to hoover up the aphids overnight.

Small clusters of aphids can be squished with your fingers or washed off with a strong jet of water.

Insecticidal soap sprays are effective, but must come into contact with the pest to work.

Chemical

Avoid feeding plants with nitrogen-rich fertiliser, as it encourages soft, sappy growth that's especially vulnerable to aphid attack. There are many products available to control aphids - if you intend to use them on edible crops, make sure you follow the instructions carefully.

Advertisement

Discover more ideas and inspiration

Related content

Caterpillars

Leafhopper

Fasciated shoots

Leaf miner fly

Related offers

Offer

Subscriber only content

Claim 50 free* freesias

Freesias are fantastically fragrant and make a wonderful cut flower. Claim a pack of 50 double-flowered freesia bulbs for free - *just pay £5.65 for postage. Also, order any additional plants from Hayloft and pay no extra postage.

Unlock now

Offer

Save £20 on geraniums

A special collection of unusual hardy geraniums, with sumptuous dark foliage and long flowering times. Buy six plants (one of each) for £18, or save £20 when you buy 18 (three of each) for just £34.

Order now

Offer

Three free bearded iris

Claim your collection of three stunning bearded iris varieties, worth over £22, for free - *just pay £5.65 for postage. Also, add any other items to your order and pay no extra postage.

Order now