Aphid Control In Agricultural Crops And Home Gardens

Agricultural control of aphids best uses an integrated pest management (IPM) strategy, where species are identified and tactics reflect the allowable tolerance level on a crop. Within fields, aphids may be monitored by means of yellow water pans or sticky traps, which attract them. In some agricultural regions, especially seed-growing areas with plant virus sensitivities (e.g., the Netherlands, Idaho), specialized agencies run aerial trapping networks in which large suction traps are used to detect alates and forecast population levels. Proper aphid IPM emphasizes sustainable control, maximizing organically compatible methods to minimize effects on nontarget species, such as biological control agents, or vertebrates. IPM tactics include cultural control methods, such as minimizing weed or ant populations that promote aphids, using ultraviolet-light-reflecting or colored films near plants to repel alates, or inter-planting pollen and nectar plants among crop rows to promote aphid natural enemies. Biological control agents include small wasps (e.g., Aphidius sp.) that parasitize aphids and disperse well within populations. Predators, which as immatures voraciously consume aphids, can be released. These include lacewings (e.g., Chrysopa spp.), aphid midges (e.g., Aphidoletes spp.), and ladybird beetle larvae (e.g., Hippodamia convergens). Predators may, however, disseminate when released as adults. One can apply entomopathic fungi (e.g., Beauveria bassiana), whose spores attach to the aphid's exoskeleton, penetrate it, and kill the aphid. Insect growth regulators applied by spray act through various means to prevent maturation of aphids. These may act in conjunction with biological control agents if the latter fail to provide adequate control. Use of chemical poisons in aphid IPM should be minimized because of the effect on nontarget species. While poison use may sometimes be necessary, heavy usage promotes insecticidal resistance in aphids, as well as secondary resurgence of aphid populations, once biological control agents have been hampered. Chemical poisons range from less toxic pyrethroids to more toxic organophosphates. They may be applied directly as contact insecticidal sprays or dusts, or indirectly as plant systemic insecticides that are ingested with the plant's sap. Cultivation of aphid-resistant crop varieties is also important.

In home gardens and yards, nontoxic controls should be emphasized. Aphid detection involves inspection of buds, stems, fruits, and the underside of leaves, where the insects are most likely to congregate. Effective control can simply involve frequently hosing aphids off plants with water, being careful to hit the leaf undersides. Spray applications of a mixture of garlic and water may repel aphids. Sprays of cuticle-disrupting insecticidal soaps, which cause fatal desiccation, often give control. Under overhanging trees, problems from aphid sooty molds on driveways, patios, and walkways are best controlled by hosing the surfaces. Control for aphid galls or leaf distortion on deciduous trees can be problematic, sometimes requiring the winter application of a dormant oil to kill overwintering eggs. Ultimately, elimination of the tree to may be required to solve problem, so tree species in yards should be carefully selected and placed, in view of their potential aphid pests.

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