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

Claim your free secatuers

Claim your free pair of secateurs, worth £16.99, when you place any order at Bakker.com. Choose from their entire range of plants, bulbs, garden accessories and more.

Use code: BBCOCT16

Order now

Offer

Free* plant hanger kit

Learn the vintage craft of macramé. Claim your plant hanger kit, worth £19.75, for free - *just pay £2.95 for postage.

Use code: GWGIFT

Order now

FREE P&P

Subscriber only content

Save on autumn plants

Choose from a selection of great offers on varieties to plant this autumn at Thompson & Morgan. All featured offers also include free p&p.

Unlock now