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What exactly are aphids? Aphids are small, soft bodied insects that feed on the sap from plants while leaving behind a shiny honeydew (aphid poo) Normally when I see plants with curling, yellowing and distorted leaves I know that the plant has aphids. Many times aphids can be found on the underside of leaves.

The thing that fascinates me most about aphids is their reproductive capabilities. I remember learning in my master gardener class that aphids are born pregnant…huh? This is by far the best explanation of how aphids reproduce:

“Female aphids give birth to other live female aphids that are already pregnant with yet more female aphids.”

The key to this reproduction is “parthenogenesis” and “viviparity.” Parthenogenesis means that an egg can be developed without fertilization. Also, the aphids are viviparous which is the ability to give birth to live young rather than laying eggs. Wow, talk about fighting a losing battle. Yet, there are safe and effective ways to slow down an aphid infestation, and get rid of one all together.

For more info on the reproductive cycle, check out this blog solely dedicated to all things aphids: http://theaphidroom.wordpress.com/category/reproductive-biology/

NIPM- Nikki’s Integrated Pest Management

1. Before anything, try to spray off as many aphids as possible with a strong stream of water. Many aphids will not be able to get back on the host plant. Let the leaves dry.

2. I am a neem oil kind of gal. Neem is an organic oil that is a pesticide, fungicide and miticide all in one. The fruit and the seeds of the Neem tree are pressed to make the oil. I keep a specific spray bottle just for neem oil. Follow the directions and labels to make up your own batch and spray affected plants, shrubs and trees.
Please note that Neem oil will kill other beneficial insects. If I see lady beetles on a plant, I try to just spray with water.

Here is a helpful link for making a spray with dish soap: http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/insect/05547.html

3. Clean your snips! It’s super important to clean your tools if you encounter something nasty in your garden: aphids, powdery mildew, scale etc. I keep bleach wipes with me, which work well. Or you can mix up a batch of bleach water and keep that in a spray bottle.

I love taxonomy. Here is the taxonomic breakdown of aphids:

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hemiptera
Suborder: Sternorrhyncha
Superfamily: Aphidoidea

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