Aphids belong to the family Aphididae which is a super-family of insects. Some common aphids are root aphids, woolly apple aphids, red aphids, black aphids, and white aphids. Aphids are also known as the plant louse, the blackfly, the greenfly, and ant cows. Most aphids are plant sap-sucking, soft-bodied insects. They have a pair of tube-like upright projections called ‘cornicles’ on the dorsal side of the abdomen. These insects are most active at daybreak and throughout the morning.
Not all aphids harm the plants on which they feed. Oleander aphids or yellow aphids feed on milkweed but don’t damage the plants. They are a pear-shaped species of aphids with bright yellow coloring and black legs.
Some species of ants and aphids share a unique relation. Aphids feed on sugar-rich plant saps and give out a sticky secretion called honeydew that’s a favorite among many ants. The ants farm aphids and protect them from predators. Aphids are mostly seen as pests by humans. Gardeners and farmers look for methods of aphid control by organic means like spraying neem oil and castile soap in areas where there is an aphid infestation. Castile soaps are the more eco-friendly choice as they are made from animal fats.
All over the world (mostly temperate and tropical zones)
Aphids Interesting Facts
What type of animal is an aphid?
Aphids are tiny insects that feed on a wide variety of plants. Some other insects that feed on plants are grasshoppers and caterpillars.
What class of animal does an aphid belong to?
Aphids are insects. There are many thousands of aphid species in the world. Most aphid species thrive in temperate and tropical climates. Aphids are so small that an adult winged aphid can float in the air and move to distant places, riding the wind.
How many aphids are there in the world?
Counting the number of aphids is like counting sand grains on a beach! There are about five thousand aphid species in the family Aphididae. Almost four hundred of these insect species are found around fruits, grains, flowers, and fiber crops. Many of these small insects are serious pests and many people want to get rid of aphids as they are an annoyance. In agriculture, forestry, and gardening, aphids control is practiced almost everywhere that healthy plants are required.
Where does an aphid live?
Aphids live in gardens, forests, and yards, wherever they can find suitable trees and shrubs to feed on. Aphids live in thickly populated clusters on new growths, stems, and fresh leaves. They usually occupy the undersides of leaves and suck plant sap. When an aphid infestation becomes too much, plants suffer from distorted growth and yellow leaves that usually drop off. Controlling aphids is a big challenge for farmers and gardeners.
What is an aphid's habitat?
Aphids live on a variety of plants. They are usually found on the undersides of green leaves. It is common to find aphids on plants like squash, cucumber, potato, mustard, and fruit trees. It is also common to find aphids on roses. Tomato aphids can feed on the plant’s sap without harming it to quite the same extent as many other aphids.
Aphids living on plants like marigold, fennel, and catnip are rare due to the smell of these plants and aphid habitats differ with different species. For example, the green peach aphid or greenfly is a tiny green aphid mostly found on peach trees. On the other hand, root aphids may live on or under the soil. Root aphids are a major concern for root crop growers. Biological or natural control through the introduction of predators like ladybugs and the use of organic remedies like spraying neem oil or a dish soap spray are commonly tried methods of eradication of aphid pests.
Who do aphids live with?
Aphids live in colonies. These insects move from one plant to another when their host plant becomes overpopulated by the species, resulting in it dying due to the over-sucking of sap. Aphids are rarely found alone. They reproduce extremely fast and young insects remain on the host tree, feeding day and night.
How long does an aphid live?
The average aphid life span is between a few weeks to a couple of months, depending on their species. Aphids are able to survive as they hide when they detect a predator. They also warn other aphids of an incoming danger by producing a smelly chemical. Aphids also try to escape by walking, flying, or secreting a chemical that makes them become bad-tasting prey. Many insects and other invertebrates feed on aphids.
How do they reproduce?
Wingless adult females produce 50-100 offspring. A young aphid is ready to reproduce offspring in a week. After this, they can produce about five young insects every day for about 30 days. Aphids are the most common garden pests found on plants. Their quick reproduction allows them to multiply heavily in their natural surroundings. Key aphid control measure lies in breaking the life cycle of these pests.
Male aphids are rarer than females. During winter, the eggs of these insects remain attached to plants. These eggs hatch in spring as nymphs and these nymphs produce eggs asexually. In fall the nymphs lay eggs that may hatch into male aphids. Aphid eggs take about a week to incubate. In warmer climates, sexual reproduction occurs, otherwise, these insects reproduce asexually.
What is their conservation status?
The conservation status of aphids is currently Least Concern.
Aphids Fun Facts
What do aphids look like?
Aphids are small insects of various sizes and colors with pear-shaped bodies. They measure 0.079-0.16 in (2-4 mm). These soft-bodied insects are pear-shaped and come in different colors like yellow, green, black, red, yellow, or brown. There are about five thousand species of aphids with varied appearances, different preferred feeding locations, and a range of habitats.
Aphids have two horn-like cornicles protruding from their abdomen. All aphids have cornicles but these are of different sizes for different aphids. Garden aphids, garden lice, or brown aphids common on garden plants, have black tailpipes at the end of their abdomen. Immature aphids or nymphs look similar to adults but are smaller. Young aphids shed their skin and these skins can be seen on leaves glued to sticky aphid secretions.
How cute are they?
Aphids are not cute. In fact, they are considered garden pests that destroy plants. Farmers and gardeners use various methods to get rid of aphids and to stop aphid invasions.
How do they communicate?
Aphids communicate by secreting chemicals. They also use their sense of touch and sight to communicate.
How big is an aphid?
An aphid is between 0.079-0.16 in (2-4 mm). The slender, brown, damsel bugs that are natural enemies of aphids are about 1.5 in (3.81 cm) long.
How fast can an aphid fly?
The winged aphid species can fly. However, they are too weak to lift themselves in the air, they simply float with the wind for hundreds of miles. They can’t move against it. Therefore the exact speed at which they 'fly' is not known.
How much does an aphid weigh?
Aphids are tiny and lightweight. The exact weight of these garden pests has not been recorded.
What are their male and female names of the species?
Male and female insects of any aphid species do not have specific names.
What would you call a baby aphid?
A young aphid is called a nymph.
What do they eat?
All aphids are herbivores. They suck sap from plants and are usually found feeding on leaves, stems, and roots. The sap they drink often contains more sugar than protein. Aphids require a lot of sugary sap in order to get an adequate amount of protein.
Are they dangerous?
Aphids are not dangerous in the true sense as they do not bite humans. However, aphids are dangerous in the sense that they may cause considerable harm to plants in gardens, crop fields, and fruit orchards. These insects use their microscopically slender mouthparts to extract sap juices from leaf and stem phloem to feed on.
Would they make a good pet?
Aphids are pests and not pets. Most people want to get rid of aphids as soon as they see them in their garden. In many gardens, aphid control is necessary as these insects can spread a virus in plants.
Did you know...
Aphidius colemani are a type of parasitic wasps that lay eggs in aphids. The eggs hatch inside these insects and the larvae spin cocoons inside the aphid’s body. The aphid's body swells and the adult wasp exits the body leaving behind a hard brown shell known as an ‘aphid mummy’.
How do aphids spread?
Aphids spread extremely fast. These insects travel from one plant to another as they are carried by the wind, and adults are extremely mobile. In indoor plants, natural aphid infestation happens as the insects fly (float) or crawl from plant to plant. A cause of an aphid infestation could simply be the presence of one of their favorite host plants.
How to get rid of aphids?
Aphids are considered pests as they feed on the sap of green garden plants, new growths on trees and shrubs. Controlling aphids has become a necessity for gardeners and farmers to protect their gardens and crop fields. Aphid control can be done in several ways. It is important to get rid of aphids before an infestation goes out of hand and they cause much damage to your plants. A chemical pesticide spray is often used on plants but natural controls are better. Biological control can be achieved through the introduction of ladybugs and other natural enemies or predators of aphids. Organic solutions like neem oil and home remedies like soapy water can also prove to be successful aphid control methods. Some aphid predators and natural enemies are ladybugs, hoverflies, lacewings, damsel bugs, and blister beetles.
Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other insects from our potter wasp facts and bald-faced hornet facts pages.
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