Aphids, also called plant lice, are small (up to ¼ inch) soft - bodied insects that infest most garden plants. Some aphids spend their entire lives on one type of plant; others infest different varieties. Most gardeners can readily identify the green aphids, but black, brown, yellow and gray aphids are also common.
As soon as your favorite flowers or vegetable plants pop up, aphids are ready to pounce. They'll stay on the stems and underside of leaves until fall, sucking up the sap until your plants wither and die. They secrete a gooey substance called honeydew, which ants eat. Honeydew left on the plants often turns black with sooty mold fungus. Aphids can act as conduits for viruses which they spread from plant to plant. Fortunately, there are many ways to control aphids.
Check your plants frequently, especially those where you've found aphids before, for the presence of aphids. If you catch infestations early, you can prune out infested branches or hose them off with water. Aphids prefer warm to hot temperatures and often cause the most damage in late spring. If you see lots of ants hanging around your plants, it could be a sign that aphids are present.
Aphids have several natural enemies. Ladybugs, ladybug larvae, lacewing larvae, and soldier beetles all feed on aphids.
Chemical Control on Roses & Ornamentals
If spraying your plants with water isn't working, and you're not seeing any natural enemies, there are chemical control options. On your roses and ornamentals use Ortho® Bug B Gon® Insect Killer for Lawns & Gardens for large jobs and Ortho® Rose & Flower Insect Killer Ready-To-Use for small jobs.
Chemical Control on Edibles
If you have aphids in your vegetable garden use Ortho® Flower, Fruit & Vegetable Insect Killer or Ortho® Fruit Tree Spray. Always check the label to make sure your edible plant is listed before applying.