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Aphids (Aphidoidea) are the most common plant pests in addition to the snails and belong together with scale insects, mealybugs and white flies to the group of plant lice. The scientifically correct name of the insect group is actually tube aphids - with around 650 native species, it is the largest in the plant lice.
Aphids are only a few millimeters in size and green, reddish brown or blackish brown depending on the species. The soft-skinned, partly winged insects live either in large colonies or small groups on their host plants, mainly on the young leaves and soft shoot tips. There they sting the plant cells with their proboscis and suck out the sugary sap. However, they eliminate a large part of the sugar juice again because they need above all the very low protein content to live. The so-called honeydew covers the host plant with a sticky deposit and is a reliable symptom of pest infestation.
On older deposits often so-called Rußtaupilze settle on. Although they do not damage the plant directly, they form an unsightly, black-felted mold. In addition, the fresh honeydew attracts ants - they literally milk the aphids and even defend them against ladybugs and other predators. Another problem with aphid infestation is that the airborne aphids contribute to the spread of virus diseases in the garden when colonizing new plants, for example in fruit trees or perennials. In dry, warm early summer, aphids can multiply in mass.
Ants milk aphids and protect them against their natural predators
Among the most common representatives in our gardens are the Great Rose aphid (Macrosiphum rosae, among others rose, apple, pear, strawberry), the black bean louse (Aphis fabae, including beans, potatoes, turnips, viburnum and capricorn), apple blossom louse ( Eriosoma lanigerum, on apple, pear and quince), green peach aphid (Myzus persicae, among others on peach, plum and mirabelle and various vegetables and weeds), the green apple aphid (Aphidula pomi, on apple and pear) and the Sitka spruce (Liosomaphis abietinum, in certain spruce and fir species).
way of life
Almost all aphids overwinter at the egg stage on the host plants and multiply after hatching in the spring initially asexual. In this way, numerous descendants are formed within a short time - it usually takes only a week until the formation of a new, sexually mature generation is completed. After several generations, the first airworthy offspring will emerge, colonizing new plants of the same species or, as in the case of the changing black bean louse, migrating to their winter hosts Common viburnum (Viburnum opulus) and primate urn (Euonymus europaeus) until the end of the season. The winged aphids can usually reproduce only sexually.
Aphids and their predator Number 1: The ladybug
The best prevention against aphids is to cultivate its garden close to nature and to avoid larger accumulations of similar plants. For example, combine your roses with different perennials and create your vegetable garden as a mixed culture. In general, a healthy plant that is sufficiently supplied with nutrients, water and light is less susceptible. An over-fertilized, in the wrong place or ailing plant against it is gladly settled by aphids. Therefore, avoid over-fertilization with nitrogen, as aphids also benefit from the rich vegetable sap. It is also helpful to refrain from ornamental shrubs that are often attacked by lice, such as Jelängerjelieber (Lonicera) or Bauernjasmin.
Make sure that the natural enemies of aphids such as lacewings, ladybirds, parasitic wasps, hoverflies and other beneficial insects in your garden find enough nesting possibilities, for example by creating deadwood hedges and installing lacewing boxes or an insect hotel. If the aphid hunters feel comfortable in their garden, the aphid usually ebbs noticeably after a first invasion in late spring or early summer. Reason: Because of the good food supply, the beneficials multiply greatly. In the course of the summer, a balance is established with which one can live well as a hobby gardener.
In order to prevent an aphid infestation, the so-called Austriebsspritzung of fruit trees and other woody has proven.Once the buds are swollen and the first leaf tips are visible, the plants are thoroughly treated with a beneficial spray expectorant such as promanal. The active ingredient rapeseed oil penetrates into the smallest crevices and covers Blattlauseier and overwintering pests with a fine film of oil, so that they die.
Chemical insecticides should be avoided as far as possible in the fight against aphids, as they destroy not only the lice, but also many beneficials. Lice colonies on individual plants such as fruit bushes or roses can be sprayed with a sharp jet of water. Flightless aphids are relatively immobile and can hardly even overcome distances of 20 to 30 centimeters on the ground. The chance that they re-infest the plants, therefore, is extremely low. If the shoot tips are already severely damaged, they should be cut off and disposed of together with the aphids.
Special patches with insecticidal content - once applied - work against aphids for two months (for example, aphid-free patches or rose patches from Celaflor). They are simply placed around the stems of the plants and release their active ingredient to the sap, which in turn is taken up by the aphids.
The spraying of the plants has proven to be an effective method against aphid infestation
In the case of excessive multiplication of aphids, beneficial agent-free Neem preparations (for example pest-free Neem) or agents based on rapeseed oil or potash soap (for example Neudosan aphid) may be used. The preparations clog the respiratory organs of the aphids, the so-called tracheids, so that the insect suffocates with time. To capture as many pests as possible, it is important that the plants are thoroughly sprayed from all sides. As a home remedy for aphids also acts homemade soap broth. A stinging nettle is also often recommended. To do this, one kilogram of nettle leaves are drawn into five to ten liters of water for 24 hours. However, tests by the Biologische Bundesanstalt have shown that the solution only has an efficiency of 30 percent - and that is exactly the same as pure water.
Nasturtium and other summer flowers under an apple tree: Unfortunately, this hardly helps against aphids
In order to keep aphids away from fruit trees, it is often recommended to plant the tree slice with nasturtium, which is intended to lure insects away from the trees. This is a common misconception: they are two different aphid species that do not change their host plants. It is not absolutely necessary to intervene immediately when aphids show up on the plants. In most cases, a short time later enough beneficial organisms emerge, so that a natural balance sets in. A slight infestation can cope with most plants.
Potted and indoor plants
If there are only a few aphids on the plant, they can often be easily wiped off with your fingers or combed with soap broth. If sprays are used in the event of heavy infestation, spraying should be carried out several times at intervals of a few days so that later hatching animals are also detected. Alternatively, there are granules that are superficially incorporated into the soil and their active ingredients absorb the plants on the irrigation water. The aphids then absorb the substances with food and perish. The funds are available in the normal garden trade. However, you should not use them on flowering plants whose flowers are visited by beneficial insects, as these are also poisoned. The control of aphids with plant protection sticks has also proven effective (for example Lizetan, Careo or Axoris). They are simply put into the potting soil and there they release their active ingredient to the plant roots over a longer period of time. The sucking insects are thus poisoned similar to the rose patch with the plant sap. Important: Use systemic products that act through the roots, exclusively for ornamental plants, because fruits and vegetables are no longer edible after such a treatment.