Dealing with Aphids in the Garden

Aphids are one of the most common pests in southern California landscapes.

Aphids are small, soft-bodied insects with long slender mouthparts used to pierce stems or leaves. They tend to feed in dense groups on leaves or new growth stems and do not move rapidly when disturbed. Almost every plant has one or more aphid species that occasionally feeds on it. The species are difficult to distinguish from one another, but the treatment is similar.

When are aphids commonly found?

Aphids are most commonly found in the Spring, when plants are growing. They like to feed on flowering plums, roses, Crape Myrtles, and various other plants and vegetables. An aphid population can grow at a very fast rate.

Because aphids like to feed on new growth, you want to be careful not to over-fertilize your plants. Here at Groundcare Landscape, we like to use slow-release fertilizer so that plants do not grow too fast. This helps to prevent the attraction of aphids.

How to reduce/prevent aphids.

Although aphids rarely kill a mature plant, the damage they do can be substantial. Curling leaves and the secretion of honeydew (a sugar-rich sticky liquid) on the leaves by aphids calls for their control. Pruning out infested leaves and stems is very important to help reduce their presence. You can also treat for them by spraying plants with insecticidal oils and soaps. This method does not kill aphids hidden within curled leaves unfortunately. You’ll want to prune those leaves. Using systemic insecticides can kill aphids hidden in curling leaves, but one has to be careful when applying it to any given plant.

Monitoring is key.

In order to neutralize infestations early, it is important to check plants at least once a week during the growing season. After plants are treated for aphids, it is also important to continue to monitor them.

In a landscape setting, one can monitor for aphids by using water-sensitive paper that measures honeydew drippings from a tree. A lot of people do not realize that the sap on the ground is usually caused by aphids. The sap can stain synthetic turf and cement areas.

Want help preventing aphids in your garden this spring? We can help! Contact us for assistance with any pest-related issues.

About the Author:

Omar Salazar, CLT

Omar is a CLCA Certified Landscape Technician and Account Manager at Groundcare.

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