Aphids are common insect pests in this area. They can attack a huge range of plants – outdoor plants, indoor plants, ornamentals or edibles. Trees, shrubs, perennials, annuals and veggies can all be affected. Aphids can be a real nuisance in gardens, especially as the temperature warms up in the summer. The aphid itself is a soft bodied insect, about 2mm long which feeds on sap from plants. They have a short life cycle and will reproduce rapidly, so they are usually found in large numbers. They love tender new growth so will often congregate on the new growing points of plants.
There are numerous different types of aphids – most easily distinguished by colour – green, black, peach, grey or red. As they suck the sap from a plant, the plant will weaken – leaves will look distorted and will often be covered in sticky honeydew which the aphids excrete. The worst case scenario is that the plant will die. However, on perennials and shrubs only the new growth will be affected and the plant will most likely be fine the next growing year. Aphids are usually quite host specific, meaning that if they like a particular variety of plant they will quite often stay on it and not spread to different varieties that may be close by. This is a good thing!
Aphids are also known as plant lice
If you see any evidence of aphids, they can easily be treated with a homemade soap and water spray. In a spray bottle, combine 40 parts water to 1 part dish soap (not hand soap) and spray on the affected areas. Ensure that the spray thoroughly coats the insects – use your hand to cover everything including stems and tops and bottoms of foliage well. Leave for 30 minutes before rinsing thoroughly with plain water. Rinsing with water is important as, left unrinsed the soap will burn the leaves – then you are left with a bigger mess! Keep checking the plant for signs of reinfection and be prepared to reapply as necessary.