What's Bugging Your Garden? Sucking Insects

| 6/30/2013 10:00:11 AM

What’s Bugging Your Garden 

Sucking Insects 

A number of insects, such as aphids, whiteflies, leafhoppers, spider mites, and others suck out plant juices, causing a spotty or yellow discoloration on the leaves and shoots.  The damage may be difficult to spot in the beginning, but a severe infestation may result in wilting and curling of leaves and shoots.  All sucking insects except leafhoppers congregate in large groups.  Here are the major ones to watch for.

Aphids are obnoxious pests, the bane of every gardener.  They are tiny 1/16 to 1/8 inch long, pear-shaped sucking insects in numerous colors—green, yellow, orange, black, gray, pink, brown, and even white.  The saliva of some species stunts growth and causes leaves to wilt and curl.  All aphids secrete honeydew (plant sap enriched with sugars and amino acids), which attracts ants.

Aphids have a strange life cycle.  Wingless females emerge from eggs as nymphs.  They mature and give birth to living young without being fertilized.  These young reproduce in the same way for several generations until some develop wings and fly off to other plants.  In the fall, winged males as well as females are born.  Aphids generally produce 20 or more generations each season and are found almost everywhere.