Root Aphids

Organic Ways To Kill Root Aphids

Root aphids are damaging pests to indoor crops and are responsible for reduced plant vigor, increased incidence of plant disease and substantial crop losses in indoor and outdoor cultivation. Most common in container plantings, early detection and treatment is highly recommended for root aphids. Infestations of root aphids inhibit plant growth and they will not reach their mature size. Often mistaken for nutrient deficiencies, 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. 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: Unfortunately, it is not as easy as just "getting rid of root aphids". Controlling root aphids begins with careful monitoring and is most effective when a mixture of control methods are used. While systemic insecticides may be suitable, there are few organic systemic treatments and extreme caution should be taken when using systemic insecticides on consumable crops.

  • 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.
  • Beauveria bassiana is a fungus used as a biocontrol for many soft-bodied insects (aphids, thrips, whiteflies, etc.). BotaniGard Maxx combines pyrethrins (contact insecticide) with B. bassiana and has proven to be an effective treatment for existing populations of root aphids. It is the closest thing to a "root aphid killer". Mycotrol and BotaniGard contain B. bassiana and can be applied as soil drenches along with Monterey Garden Insect Spray. For more information about controlling root aphids with Mycotrol and/or BotaniGard, click here.
  • 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.
  • 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 above).

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