SUCKING THE LIFE OUT OF INNOCENT ROSE BUSHES WITH
NEEDLE-LIKE MOUTH PARTS
Aliases The Serial
Sucker; Macrosiphum rosae
Hangout: Rose bushes; especially on stems, buds and young
Physical Features: Pink or green; 1/16"
Rose aphids prepare for next spring's assault by laying hundreds of eggs
on rose canes. After the young aphids hatch, they spend their entire lives
gorging on their victim's life juices and producing more criminals. Too
many on one bush can force some aphids to move and begin attacking another
rose bush. Unless winters are mild, adults will die and only the eggs
will survive until the next spring.
APHIDS LET DISEASES HITCH A RIDE TO NEW PLANTS ON THEIR BACKS AND THEN
PUNCTURE PLANTS FOR THEM.
So Long, Suckers!
1. Patrol the area
- Pursue perpetrators in areas
of new growth and the undersides of new leaves twice per week in spring
and summer. Use a hand lens.
- Look for areas sticky with
honeydew or an unusual number of ants.
- Check and see if any leaves
are curled, disfigured, or sticky. Also look for sabotaged flowers that
have an unhealthy appearance.
- Recording what your investigations
reveal will help you find and stifle future intrusions. Be sure to note
the victimized areas and compare the number of intruders to the last
time you policed the grounds.
2. Make a positive I.D.
- There are almost as many
kinds of aphids as there are kinds of plants-rose aphid is just one
example. Do some research on other types of aphids if you don't think
rose aphid is what's ailing you. The Internet and the Cooperative Extension
office are great resources, with lots of mug shots of these bandits
3. Do a thorough background
- Not only should you learn
about aphids, but you should also get to know the squadron of beneficial
insects covering the area. Many hunt down aphids, restoring law and
order. However, aphids aren't just sitting ducks-they have ants for
bodyguards. Ants will tend aphids for their honeydew and protect them
from aphid-eaters, so look for ways to deter ants, too.
4. Determine the danger
- Plants can fight back if
the invasion isn't severe.
- Letting these rascals raid
your landscape just a little can be good because it provides a food
source for lots of beneficial insects. Good guys will eat aphids as
appetizers and then devour many more bugs for the main course.
- Seedlings are much less
able to cope with assaults than larger plants.
- Unfortunately, honeydew
is an ideal breeding ground for some molds.
5. Make a plan
- Do-Nothing Method
Healthy plants combat aphids using chemical warfare, even without your
help. Plants give off volatile chemicals when attacked by aphids. To
top it off, these same chemicals signal aphideating bugs that aphids
are in the area.
- Manipulative Measures
-Bring out the S.W.A.T. team! Aphids' soft bodies make this the easiest
S.W.A.T. session you'll ever have. Just squash them with your fingertips!
-Spray aphids off plants with a forceful water jet from hoses. Aphids
don't easily climb back onto plants, especially if it's a hot, sunny
-For small, localized raids cut off leaves or branches and drop in soapy
-Carefully look over new transplants for aphids. Keep them separated
from your other plants until the invasion is gone.
-Aphids prey on plants stressed out from over-fertilizing and incorrect
watering, so do your best to boost your plants' health.
- Secret Agents
-Luckily, this determined and detrimental bunch has lots of natural
predators. Lady beetles, lacewings, parasitic wasps and many others
crack down on large aphid attacks.
-Pesticides can be deadly to aphid predators, so avoid using them.
-Plant nectar-producing flowers, like coriander and fennel, to attract
these natural enemies.
- Armed and Dangerous
-Suffocate hatching aphids in early spring with dormant oil, purchased
from a home and garden store. Follow the directions and don't use within
30 days of sulfur products to prevent scalding plant leaves.
-If the invasion is intense, spray a solution of water and insecticidal
soap, which isn't as toxic to beneficial insects as other insecticides.
Do this early in the day so plants dry by nightfall. Check the label
to be sure the product is registered for use on the plant you're spraying,
and follow the directions for use, storage, and disposal.
-Avoid pesticides that kill many kinds of insects because they knock
off beneficial bugs that eat these suckers.
6. Evaluate the results
- Aphids reproduce quickly,
actually giving birth to females that are already pregnant, so keep
good records of changes in population size and tactics you used to control