What Are Aphids ?
Aphids belong to the Aphidoidea family within the order of hemiptera, which also consists of cicadas, gnats, and other so-called true bugs. Aphids are divided into ten families, and there are about 4,000 varieties of them. Aphids can be seen all around the world, but most of them are found in the temperate zones. Around 250 species are pests in gardens and forests.
Although aphids are diminutive in size, they can create a big problem to crops or a garden or a plant. These insects depend on plants for food, and while they are feeding, they pierce the phloem of the plant. The sap flows through these vessels. While they feed they can transmit viruses to the plants. Sometimes, they do not transmit viruses, but they can damage the look of the plant through breeding and feeding activities.
Unlike many species, aphids have an unusual reproductive cycle. The insects mate around Autumn, and then the females lay fertilized eggs. In spring, the eggs hatch. These eggs produce just females, which may or may not have wings.
The female aphids, which are born in the spring, reproduce asexually or parthenogenically and not via fertilization. However, then in fall, some aphids change their sex and turn into males. These males then fertilize the females.
Parthenogenesis helps aphids to reproduce in small amount of time and in large number. The aphids that dwell in greenhouses or areas where the winters are mild can reproduce asexually.
Aphids are controlled by certain natural predators. Aphid predators consist of ladybugs, lacewings, hoverfly larvae, parasitic wasps and parasitic fungi. One can also get rid of aphids by using homemade spray made of plain water, soapy water, and using aluminum foil mulch. Chemical pesticides can also be used.
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