Garden Insect

10 Interesting Facts About Aphids You Probably Didn’t Know

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They are in your garden. Your tomatoes, cucumbers, potatoes, and even roses are rife with them.

Aphids seem to be everywhere. As a matter of fact, there’s probably an aphid for every fruit-bearing plant that’s out there. (They do infest weeds, by the way.)

Your relationship with aphids is likely a love-hate one. You love how interesting they are but hate that they destroy your crops.

There are thousands of articles about how to get rid of these soft-bodied insects distributed across the internet. However, this one focuses on 10 interesting facts about aphids.

Interesting Facts About Aphids #1:

Aphids Come in Different Sizes and Colours

Aphids aren’t restricted to a single colour. The green peach aphid, for example, may appear reddish to pink or yellowish to green. The oleander aphid wears a more vibrant and outgoing orange colour, while the woolly apple aphid is a purple to reddish-brown covered in a cottony mass.

Other aphids like the black bean aphid is black and emits matt green color.

Interesting Facts About Aphids #2:

Aphids Ooze an Alarm Pheromone

Some aphids ooze lipids or triglycerides from their cornicles when threatened. This substance has two factors to it: an alarm pheromone and a waxy chemical. Once emitted, this substance crystallizes upon contact with foreign objects.

Once an aphid is touched, this substance is released from an aphid, which irritates predatory insects. It may stop up the mouth or antenna of a predator who would have otherwise done an aphid harm. In some instances, this secreted substance can blind ladybeetles.

The “alarm” function of this sticky substance serves to notify other aphids of looming danger. In other cases, it merely serves as a deterrent to other aphids, warning that they should keep distance between each other on a particular leaf. Talk about being territorial!

Are you a cultivator of tomatoes? Aphids love them! Check out this article for a few suggestions if you have aphids on tomatoes in your garden.

Interesting Facts About Aphids #3:

 Aphids Poop Honeydew

Once caressed from the back by a ‘farming’ ant, an aphid will secrete a sugary, sticky substance called honeydew. Not all aphids produce honeydew, as they aren’t all phloem eaters.

The honeydew secreted from an aphid’s anus attracts a sooty-mold fungi. This has negative implications for plants, as it stifles the photosynthesis process. In addition, agricultural plants covered in black mold makes them unappetizing.

The honeydew expelled from an aphid’s anus is different from the pheromone secreted from their cornicles.

Interesting Facts About Aphids #4:

Some Female Aphids Don’t Need a Mate

Some female aphids will give birth to live aphids without mating with a male.

An aphid’s ability to bring forth live nymphs or lay eggs may depend on genetics or environmental factors. Once there’s a long photoperiod and the temperature is moderate, a female aphid will pop out a live nymph (which will be a female). This female will then continue to produce other live nymphs.

Once the temperature cools, female aphids will mate with a male and lay fertilized eggs.

Did you know that research shows that garlic extract can be used to repel aphids from your garden? Why not learn how to make your own garlic aphid spray and keep them at bay?

Interesting Facts About Aphids #5:

A Generation of Aphids in a Single Female Aphid

A female aphid that produces live nymphs will carry developing embryos. With that said, a viviparous female can sustain embryos in her ovarioles, and even her daughter will already contain her granddaughters.

This is called telescoping of generations. This is a difficult concept to grasp. In hindsight, a female aphid will have several generations of embryos developing inside of her.

As a result, it may only take a few days for a nymph to change its appearance and mature fully. As these aphids are born on a host plant, it would take around 7 to 14 days for an underdeveloped nymph to transmogrify into a developed adult and start bringing forth other live aphids.

If a female aphid is highly fertile, she could bring forth up to 30 aphids in no time. This creates a huge colony. As a result, some aphids will sprout wings and fly away to locate other host plants because of depleting plant resources and a growing populace.

Interesting Facts About Aphids #6:

Aphids Have Aliases

Aphids are a global phenomenon. While they prefer temperate locations, they can be found in the tropics.

Like humans who pick up several aliases throughout their lifetime, aphids have their own labels. These aliases are selected because of their nature, relationship with other insects, and so forth.

In different areas, aphids are known as green flies, plant lice, los afidos, ant cows, and many others.

Need to find organic ways to get rid of aphids? Consider reading this article for a few tips and suggestions.

Interesting Facts About Aphids #7:

Some Aphids are Picky About their Food

There are different species of aphids. And, while it is true that aphids feed on various host plants, some in temperate areas are fussier about the sap they suck. Most aphids in temperate zones are monophagous. This is because they prefer a certain crop or species similar to their host plant.

Aphids in the tropics, however, are polyphagous. They snack on various host plants.  This polyphagous eating habit might stem from the fact that there are fewer aphid species with a diverse variety of host plants to choose from in tropical regions.

Interesting Facts About Aphids #8:

Aphids Transmit Vectors

Some aphids, not all, are carriers of plant vectors.  This is one of the biggest economic concerns, and why aphids are dangerous to agricultural crops. Once a plant vector-carrying aphid sticks its stylet into a plant, it injects it with saliva.

It is through this saliva the vector is distributed. What is worse, other aphids feeding on the host plant can become infected and transmit the vector to crops close in proximity.

Are you struggling with an aphid infestation in your garden? Spraying them directly with a soap and water mixture can kill them.

Interesting Facts About Aphids #9:

Aphids Are Farmed by Ants

Aphids and ants forge a mutualistic relationship. An ant that tends aphids (not all do), would stimulate it by approaching from the rear. This stimulation would signal the release of honeydew that seems to intoxicate ants, as they enjoy it so much.

In exchange for its honeydew, an aphid is offered protection against predatory insects like the green lacewing, parasitic wasps, and ladybeetles. This is the epitome of “you scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours.”

Interesting Facts About Aphids #10:

Aphids Depend on a Bacteria

Like ants, aphids form an alliance with bacteria. This bacteria helps them breakdown sugary plant sap and reconstruct it into essential amino acids to fully mature. The sugar derived from plant sap is insufficient in nutrients. Hence, an aphid’s internal bacteria help them break down and reconstruct this sugar into vital amino acids.

Without assistance from this bacteria, aphids would be packed with junk food. However, this bacteria ensures they get all the nitrogenous compounds they need. It’s like the mother they never had.

Did you learn any interesting facts about aphids? Have you been studying about aphids and have a ton of information you’d like to pass on? Please leave a message in the comments section, and we’ll consider adding your suggestions to the article.

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