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

40 wallflowers for £14.99

These hardy wallflowers are supplied as bare root plants, which establish quickly to provide reliable colour every spring. With this offer, you can buy 40 for just £14.99.

Order now

FREE P&P

Subscriber only content

Save on spring bulbs

Enjoy great discounts and free p&p on a bright selection of spring bulbs to plant this autumn. You can also save on a dianthus collection and a lovely hydrangea.

Unlock now

Offer

12 for £19.50, plus free gift

Create a big impact from winter to spring with beautiful 'Double Ellen' hellebores. Buy six for £12, or save £4.50 when you buy the collection of 12 plants for just £19.50. Plus, receive three free Christmas rose plants (worth £14.50) with your order.

Order now