Aphids Can Quickly Decimate Healthy Lawns
There are thousands of species of aphids across the globe, and when then feed in large numbers, they can be extremely damaging for agribusiness. They often cluster around new plant growth and suck the sap using needle-like appendages.
Aphids are tiny insects and rarely grow larger than an eighth of an inch and can be found in shades of green, red, brown, and black.
As these insects feed on plant matter, they produce a sweet, sticky substance known as honeydew. This goo drips down onto plants and attracts ants and promotes mold growth, which may cause additional damage and plant diseases over time. Ants and aphids have a symbiotic relationship. Ants feed on the honeydew that the aphids produce, and the ants, in turn, protect the aphids from predators.
Aphid eggs hatch in the spring, producing many aphid nymphs. These nymphs grow quite quickly and can reach sexual maturity in a week, at which point they’ll lay even more eggs, and they cycle continues. This process is repeated several times in a season, which causes exponential population growth. When an aphid colony becomes large enough, some females will grow wings and fly off to form satellite colonies.
Lower-to-moderate numbers of these pests will probably not impact plant growth in a particular area, but huge populations may turn leaves yellow and withered and may stunt the growth of shoots. A few species of aphid can actually transmit diseases to many different types of plants. It’s hard to prevent damages like these, because the diseases can be transmitted in a matter of minutes, and no pest control prevention measures are guaranteed to exterminate one hundred percent of the pests.
Although these pests can occasionally cause serious damage to plants, homeowners should be warry about using pesticides to eliminate these pests, because they may inadvertently kill of beneficial insects as well, thereby opening the door for even more dangerous pests.
When dealing with aphids, it’s important to catch the infestation early. They tend to cause the greatest amount of damage during the late spring, right after the eggs begin to hatch. Grass and other plants that have played host to aphids take on several telltale signs. The leaves of plants will begin to curl and yellow and they will seem brittle to the touch since their vital fluids will have been extracted.
Many species of aphids prefer to hide on the underside of leaves, hiding them from the cursory application of pesticides and also from predators. If you decide to inspect your own yard for these pests, be sure to flip some leaves around suspected areas to see if any aphids are hiding there. It’s a good idea to clip leaves off of several parts of trees in order to determine if aphids have made their homes in your lawn.
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