Root Aphids

Early detection and control is highly recommended for root aphids. The damage they cause shows up as yellowing withered leaves and reduced plant vigor, and they have a severe effect on the fruiting ability of plants if left untreated. Infestations of root aphids inhibit plant growth and they will not reach their mature size. In addition to the direct effects of root aphids, their damage leaves plants vulnerable to pathogenic diseases. Flowering and fruiting plants' growth will be underdeveloped and less than optimal in quality.

Identification & Appearance:

From the Phylloxera family, root aphids are similar in size to aphids found on plant foliage and sometimes slightly smaller with an oblong shape. They inhabit the root zone of plants while feeding on plants' roots and occasionally move above ground onto plant surfaces. Their coloration varies depending on what they are feeding on and other environmental conditions, but generally appear white and brown. Winged adults are often confused with Fungus Gnats as they inhabit similar environments and take off when agitated. A telltale sign that you have root aphids is the chalky honeydew root aphids secrete that builds up on top of and throughout the potting media.

How To Control Root Aphids:

Controlling root aphids is most effective when treated with a mixture of control methods.

  • Growing Mediums should be selected carefully. Take care to avoid commercial soil mixes/compost and inspect what you use when planting. Inspect for pest eggs, larvae, and/or adults. Locally sourced, high quality soil mediums or homemade compost can make it easy to control inputs into production.
  • Spinosad treatments made to the soil control a number of soil-dwelling pests including root aphids. Monterey Garden Insect Spray contains spinosad and can be applied as a soil drench to all affected areas. Spinosad can be used in conjunction with Beauveria bassiana (see below).
  • Beauveria bassiana is a fungus used as a biocontrol for many soft-bodied insects such as Aphids, Thrips and Whiteflies. Mycotrol and Botanigard contain B. bassiana and can be applied as soil drenches along with Monterey Garden Insect Spray.
  • Azadirachtin serves as a growth regulator and feeding inhibitor and can be applied as a soil drench when treating a root aphid infestation. Alternating spray treatments between azadirachtin and B. bassiana for extended periods is optimal.

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