by Rincon-Vitova Insectary


Aphids suck plant sap, which causes distortion of leaves and shoots and reduces plant vigor. As aphids feed, they produce sticky honeydew, which attracts sooty molds, and reduces photosynthetic capacity. Some species also transmit plant viruses. 


Aphids are soft-bodied, pear-shaped insects, 1/16-1/8 inch long. 

Most are wingless, but some have transparent wings held roof-like over their backs.  

Immature aphids look like smaller versions of wingless adults. 

A pair of tube-like structures (cornicles) sticks out of abdomen (back end). 

Life Cycle 

In the spring wingless females hatch from overwintering eggs and give birth to many live female replicas (daughter clones). Daughters grow and give birth to many more nymphs within a week. The process repeats and aphids increase.  

Some females develop wings and fly off to start new colonies.  

In late summer/early fall sexual forms develop, mate and lay overwintering eggs. 

Many overlapping generations occur per year. 


Aphids generally develop in crowded colonies on the undersides of leaves and along stems. 

Aphids occur most often on the oldest (lowest) leaves and on the young shoots of plants. 

Honeydew on leaves is a sign of aphids (or other sucking insects). 

Yellow sticky traps at a rate of 1 card/500 sq ft trap & help identify when the winged aphids are present. 

The presence of ants can often indicate aphids (or other sucking insects). 

Cultural Practices 

Diligent sanitation is important. 

Suppress ants because they can protect aphid colonies & remove predators.   

Prune out heavily infested leaves/plant parts. 

Avoid over fertilizing – aphids like high nitrogen levels & soft new growth.  

Use organic fertilizers which release nutrients slowly. 

Dust with Diatomaceous Earth: these jagged particles cut the insects and expose to desiccation & disease. It will need to be reapplied as it gets wet. 

Blast aphids off plants with a forceful stream of plain water to reduce pest numbers. 

Use a 1% soap solution, weekly, directing the spray onto new leaves to kill adult whiteflies and crawler stages. 

Insecticidal soap: fatty acid salts weaken the cuticle (exoskeleton), and won’t leave a harmful residue. 

To help the soap penetrate the insects’ outer shell, mix 1 Tbs of isopropyl alcohol to 1 Qt of the spray.  

Insecticidal soaps & oils are harmful only whitefly directly sprayed. 

Good coverage, including the underside of leaves, is essential.  

Infestations on the lowest leaves are most difficult to reach. 

Use soaps or oils when plants are not drought-stressed and when temperatures are under 90°F to prevent possible “burn.”  

Early evening, (enough light to safely apply but sun is not shining directly on plants), may be a good time to spray. 

Horticultural oils can be applied early in the season or late in the fall to destroy overwintering eggs 

Neem oil – not for flowering plants (will leave smell/taste on buds) 

Neem Oil (Azadirachtin): mimics IGRs: primarily kills immature insects (they fail to complete molts). It also acts as an antifeedant & repellant. Neem is less effective on aphids & some grasshoppers. Neem also breaks down in water – don’t mix more than needed. It persists 4-8 days as foliar spray, and weeks if drenched. Neem does not harm foraging bees. 

 Develop habitat: Eggplant trap crops  

Repel with: Spearmint, Peppermint, Pennyroyal, Coriander, anise, mint, marigold, chives, onion and garlic 

Flowering plants for parasites and lacewing 

Attractive crops use a banker system w/ trays of barley infested with barley aphids for alternate host to establish Aphidius. 

 Avoid using pesticides: Neonicotinoids (imidacloprid), Pyrethroids (bifenthrin, cyfluthrin, fluvalinate, and permethrin). These materials are highly toxic to natural enemies and pollinators.  

Cinnamaldahyde, extracted from cinnamon, kills aphids, but also kills beneficial insects 


Beauveria bassiana  

68-86 °F >92% RH 

An entomopathenogenic fungus wide host range, including soft-bodied beneficials 

Best for sap-sucking & chewing insects 

Spores germinate on insects – kill in 2-10 days 

Some strains have 3-7 day residual activity 

Weekly applications can prevent insect population explosions  

Direct contact is important 

Fine mist sprayers deliver best results 

Spring/Summer aphids molt every 3-4 days, which may reduce efficacy 

Application Rates: Application Rates may vary among different commercial products. Read labels carefully. 

½ lb to 2 lbs per 100 gallons of water or ½ to 2 qts per 100 gallons of water or ¼ to 1 teaspoon per 10 sq ft 

Reapply every 3-5 days to ensure spores are on aphids long enough to cause infection 

 Metarhizium anisopliae  

Fungal pathogen penetrates skin, enters spiracles 

Best in high humidity and moderate temps: 75-82°F 

Infected insects stop feeding and die in 4-10 days 

whiteflies and aphids (other strains for thrips, beetles) 

Application Rates: Application Rates may vary among different commercial products. Read labels carefully. 

40-80 oz per 100 gallons of water as a drench 

8–64 oz per 1 acre as a foliar spray 

Paecilomyces fumosoroseus  

Optimal conditions >68% RH and 72-91°F 

Fungal pathogen that infests whiteflies through the skin 

Some strains also kill spider mites, aphids, and thrips (sometimes ladybeetles) 

Compatible with other fungi & predatory mites 

Application Rates: Application Rates may vary among different commercial products. Read labels carefully. 

Greenhouses only: 4-6 oz per 11,000 sq ft 

Hippodamia convergens  

Ladybugs – will feed on a variety of aphid species both as adults and larvae.  

Effective against high aphid populations 

Field collected ladybeetles enter diapause so are not effective indoors in winter months.  

Often leave after released 

Application Rates: 1 beetle per sq ft.  

Reapply if necessary 

 Chrysoperla rufilabris 

Green Lacewing – generalist 

Wingless predator for 2-3 weeks 

Will focus on eggs and immature stages, but can catch adults 

Application Rates: 1,000 eggs per 2,500 sq ft or 5,000-10,000 per acre 

Eggs on Cards: hang 1-2 units/bush, 1-5 units tree 

Pre-hatched Larvae: 20/bush, 100/tree 

Reapply every two weeks to suppress populations, monthly for maintenance 

 Aphidoletes aphidimyza 

Larvae are predators of  more than 60 species of aphids 

Can be used on indoor and outdoor plants. 

Indoor Fans may disrupt flight, hindering performance 

They are efficient at finding aphid colonies and effective against high aphid populations.  

Diapauses in short day conditions – only active from mid-March to September, unless supplemental lighting is used. 

Application Rates: Once the ants are gone 

Apply 0.1 Aphidoletes per 10 sq ft, weekly, until the aphids are eliminated.  

History of aphids, continue at this rate weekly for the duration of the crop. 

 Aphidius colemani, Aphidius ervi, aphelinus abdominalis 

Aphidius is a group of parasitic wasps that parasitize many common species of aphids in greenhouses and outdoor.  

During spring and summer, aphid populations grow too fast to be controlled by the parasite alone therefore should be used with other aphid predators such as Aphidoletes, lacewing, and lady beetles. 

Aphidius is efficient at finding aphids & most effective applied preventively. 

Aphidius alone will not provide control when aphid populations are high.  

Aphidius species do not diapause in response to short days, so they can be used year-round. 

Highly attractive crops use a banker system with trays of barley infested with barley aphids for alternate host to establish Aphidius. 

 Aphidius colemani: melon/cotton aphids, green peach aphid and other aphids.  

Tolerates 44°F 

Application Rates: 1-5 per 100 sq ft prevention 

50-100 per 100 sq ft curative 

Reapply weekly, 2-3 times 

Aphidius ervi: potato, Greenhouse potato, pea and green peach in that preference order. 

Larger parasite, longer lifecycle 

Tolerates 53°F 

Not active above 86°F 

Application Rates: 1-3 per 60 sq ft weekly, 3-6 times prevention 

Release up to every 3 days curative 

 Aphidius matricariae: green peach aphid, but not cotton/melon or potato aphids.  

Tolerates 50°F – 90°F 

Application Rates: 1-5 per 10 sq ft, weekly, preventive 

1 per 10 plants, weekly curative 

 Aphelinus abdominalis: greenhouse potato aphid and foxglove aphid.  

Not very mobile, remains in crop 

Application Rates: 2-5 per 100 sq ft, weekly, 2-4 times 

Summary of IPM for Aphids  

Monitor weekly  

Control ants! 

Proper plant health 

Strong spray of water 

Insecticidal soap 

Beauveria bassiana 


Paecilomyces fumosoroseus 

End of the crop thorough clean-up to remove all plant debris. 


  1. colemani preventively

Lacewing & Aphidoletesat the first sign of aphids.  

Late summer release of Aphidoletes can establish an overwintering population to control aphids in the spring. 


Screen Vents 

Releases of Aphidius spp 

Lacewing as spot treatments