WHEN APHIDS BECOME YOUR VEGGIES’ BED BUGS

aphids, honeydew

Photo Credit: John Obermeyer/Purdue University. 
As bed bugs are to mammals so aphids are to plant. Plant growth and productivity occur through the resultant effect of photosynthesis which results into the movement of fluid (nutrient) in the vascular bundles throughout the plant’s system; from the root to the stem, leaves, flowers, fruits etc. However, there are some enemies of your crops which take advantage of this fluid’s translocation while lodging at a hidden part of your crops’ stems or leaves and surreptitiously suck the nutrients leaving your malnourished crops to suffer hunger thereby producing if any; poor yield. 
Have you ever experienced a situation whereby your veggies flowers but fail to fruit even when
you feed them well with nutrients? Does it look like your veggies are losing vigor in spite of adequately fertile soil? Do your veggies often have black mold or soot-like substance on the leaves? Do you usually have ants regularly attracted to your crops’ leaves and flies humming over your veggies? If yes, you may have the presence of an august visitor called aphid!

What are aphids?
Aphid is an insect that reproduce profusely within hours. This is perhaps the first characteristic of aphids that needed to be emphasized. They are sap suckers (which mean they feed on your crops ‘blood thereby making your crop short of blood and by extension nutrients essential for good yield).
They are tiny soft bodied insect pear-shaped insects that may be black, green, yellow, brown, red or pink in color depending on species and food source and environs. They are usually wingless in but some do produce wings for colonization purpose whereby they would require flying to another host crop and creating another colony. You may also read: Downy mildew; the must destructive disease of curcubits
They move sluggishly when disturbed (even 100% slower than the slowest snail!) and often found under in leaves. Remember, when next you are inspecting your field for pest, make it a habit to check under the leaves because that is where most aphid found suitable to build their domain except for some species that are bold enough to dare you and still clog all around stems,  flowers and leaves (for example beans’ aphids). 

Cucumber leaves curling inward
Effect of aphid and resulting symptoms
Does it really matter if aphids are present on your veggies? Some gardeners/farmers may even argue that since they aren’t munching on the leaves, why should they care? You should please care. The destructive effect of aphids isn’t obvious almost immediately until you begin to loose yield or potential yields of your veggies be it of fruits, leaves or even roots. 

Here are some of the effects/symptoms of aphids
Curl leaves: The feeding activities of aphids especially in case of heavy infestation often results into the leaves given in and curling inward particularly new growths. This stops further growth thereby causing stunted crop appearance. Your veggies look unattractive and unproductive.

Soot like mold on beans leaves 
Disruption of photosynthetic properties: Your veggies also do kitchen thing you now! They need to prepare food which would be used for growth/productivity and the locomotor for this food preparation is the process called photosynthesis. As there won’t be a functional kitchen without cooking utensils (like pot, frying pan, kettle) so also photosynthesis won’t work without leaves on your veggies. Whereas, when the aphids are heavily satisfied sucking the veggies’ sap, they also secret a black soot-like substance called honey dew. This honey dew (not honey from bees please!) would serve as substrate for the growths of mold (fungus) which often blacken the surface of the leaves that is supposed to be used for photosynthesis and therefore disrupt the process resulting into hunger for your crops. 
Distortion in yield: If there is anywhere where the effect of this “beauty of an insect” is felt the most, it is in yield. This is directly related to disruption of photosynthetic properties. If your crop can’t cook for its needs, they it can’t produce yield for its owner. I have seen some crops failing to flower adequately or fruiting as at when due to the heavy infestation of this small beauty. They also affect leafy veggies such as kale, pak-choi etc. whereby they make the leaves to be crushy. Above all, they cause stunted growth.
Transmit viral diseases: This is perhaps the most destructive aspect of their activities. Even when you rid them off your veggies, they would have left indelible mark behind-incurable disease! Viral diseases aren’t curable but preventable. One of the best ways to do this is to disallow the presence of the sap sucking insects on your farm of which aphid is a typical example. Do however remember that they are only vector of this disease not the actual causative agent. In other word, presence of aphid does not mean presence of viral diseases. 

Control measures
Aphids are slow moving insect; very slow indeed! Does this actually make them vulnerable? Yes it does but by nature, they have developed a counter weapon of prolific productivity. They reproduce within hours directly given birth to baby aphids (nymphs) instead of eggs which start feeding almost immediately and in turn reproduce within short period. 
Any measures you must choose should limit their procreative ability keep their population to barest minimum and or completely eliminate them. 

Limiting measures: There are measures you must take to limit the activities of this aphids and their population but may not guarantee complete elimination. 
  • Remove or prune off heavily infested leaves or other plant parts and dispose far off or destroy completely
  • Flush off their presence off the leaves using rushing water, insecticidal soap and dust with diatomaceous earth or neem oil to prevent/limit re-occupation
  • Encourage the presence of natural enemies such as ladybugs which feed on aphid. This option may not be readily available to many people and technicality may be require during usage. 
Eliminating measures: If population is high and effect is much, you must resort to using total elimination measure to safe your crops from total destruction.
I supposed you found this very useful in a way. Be kind to leaves behind comment, questions and or critic. We are open to all. Expect more articles on sap sucking insects such as whiteflies, spider mite, bugs etc. and the measures that can be used to rid of them from your garden or farms. Cheers!

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HYBRID VEGGIES : WHEN APHIDS BECOME YOUR VEGGIES’ BED BUGS
WHEN APHIDS BECOME YOUR VEGGIES’ BED BUGS
aphids, honeydew
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