Root Aphid Info: Learn About Killing Root Aphids
By: Tonya Barnett, (Author of FRESHCUTKY)
Aphids are an extremely common pest in gardens, greenhouses, and even in potted houseplants. These insects live and feed on various types of plants, gradually causing their health to decline. Though aphids are most commonly found the leaves and stems, another type of aphid can be found below the soil surface. Read on to learn about root aphid treatment.
Root Aphid Info – What are Root Aphids?
The physical appearance of root aphids is very similar to that of other aphids. Most often, they can be identified by their tiny and almost translucent bodies. These pests use their mouths to feed on the roots of the plants, causing the plants to begin turning yellow.
While plants begin to yellow for many reasons, growers are able to further investigate by examining the base of the plant. Often, colonies of root aphids will establish at or just below the level of the soil. Upon removal of the infected plant, gardeners are likely to notice small clumps of a white wax-like material throughout the root system.
How to Get Rid of Root Aphids
Like many issues in the garden, one of the best methods by which to avoid root aphids is through prevention. General garden routines, such as weed control and even watering, can greatly reduce the likelihood that root aphids are able to invade. Turning and working the soil in the fall will also help to prevent the overwintering of this pest.
Comparatively speaking, root aphids tend not to spread in the garden. However, these aphids do spread to other plants through irrigation run off and may be “washed” from one planting to another. Root aphids may also be transported from one container to another via transplants or rooted cuttings.
Once established, the process of killing root aphids may become somewhat difficult. Though some chemical treatments are an option (in potted plantings), it is often not realistic as a choice to thoroughly drench the soil. If choosing a chemical control, always make certain to carefully read labels and instructions for safe usage.
Other root aphid treatments, such as predatory nematodes, may also be marginally effective. In most cases, however, the reproduction rate of the aphids will outpace the control. Once established, many growers choose to discard and dispose of the infected plants.
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How To Get Rid Of Root Aphids What To Do
Before you take controls to eliminate your infestation: First make sure you actually have root aphids! You may actually see them when you examine plant roots but some can be very small and you may need a [amazon_textlink asin=’B078N34WZR’ text=’jewelers loop’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’buildkoipondc-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’263a72f1-18cd-414b-920e-f222eb3c34da’] or [amazon_textlink asin=’B06WD843ZM’ text=’USB microscope’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’buildkoipondc-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’356f1a3b-775a-4864-ac07-7f7b9553a1ec’] to see them.
If you have fliers on yellow sticky traps make sure you can tell the difference between fungus gnats and root aphid flyers.
There is a good and very long forum thread here: https://www.icmag.com/ic/showthread.php?t=159960
They do look similar so the best way to know for sure really is to find them on your roots.
ORGANIC ROOT APHID CONTROL
I use chemicals to get rid of root aphids but I realize many growers are organic and dont want to use them. Your job may be harder because it will be harder to eliminate the eggs. The first thing to eliminate them would be a root drench with pyrethrum. It will provide a quick knock down and kill your root aphids but if that is all you do they will definitely be back.
The Pyganic is OMRI certified and naturally derived and the cheaper Bonide product is synthetic and not certified.
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Your mainline of defense after knocking them back will be Botanigard. This product is pretty expensive but contains a combination of pyrethrins and Beauveria bassiana which attacks the aphids. Since it has pyrethrins in it you may not need to purchase them separately. It comes as a liquid and a wettable powder. You will have to reapply it more than once to kill the root aphids off probably every 3 to 5 days at first. [amazon_link asins=’B000J2K34W’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’buildkoipondc-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’ce518988-c684-4868-a42a-8713298b687b’]
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[amazon_textlink asin=’B01NH0PWXX’ text=’Botanigard’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’buildkoipondc-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’faf5f321-961c-4c1e-9924-91cf7f666024′] may be a good option even for growers who are not organic per se.
There are a lot of various home remedies that organic growers use and claim to work but I would be cautious about trying them. For example a neem oil drench is recommended by some but can actually suffocate your roots. Generally speaking oils and soaps are bad for your roots.
Nematodes are often recommended as another weapon against root aphids for organic growers. Some say it works some say it doesn’t. A big problem is getting live ones. At least one breeder of nematodes when asked said they will not control them.
Some growers report success with [amazon_textlink asin=’B004Q2K31Y’ text=’Azamax’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’buildkoipondc-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’305e826d-a907-4fef-ab72-ba7ce7a3f58a’] which is a derivative of neem oil. I think it will be partially effective if used as a drench but it may damage roots. It may act to repel them if you spray your plants with it.
YELLOW STICKY TRAPS
Using [amazon_textlink asin=’B000I6K3JY’ text=’yellow sticky traps’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’buildkoipondc-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’58cb0a05-8457-4f94-9d60-c6590b642656′] is a good idea whether you grow organically or not. If you are using them to trap fungus gnats it is a good idea to check them for root aphid flyers too.
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Root aphids damage the roots and cause them to die. Because fungus gnats are attracted to decomposing organic matter it is not uncommon to have both.
If you are seeing stunting, slow growth, smaller than normal leaves or unusual deficiency like symptoms in your leaves the problem may be caused by root aphids and not fungus gnats.
Dealing with a Root Aphid Problem
Root aphids are minuscule and colored to blend in with the soil. The primary way to identify a root aphid infestation is via the waxy substance that they leave behind. If you begin to notice a chalky, white residue (also known as “honeydew”) on any part of your plants, you should begin to suspect that something undesirable is feeding upon them.
Similar to mealybugs, root aphids’ bodies are somewhat teardrop-shaped. As a matter of fact, root aphids are often confused with mealybugs due to their shape and the honeydew substance they leave behind. Some root aphids progress into a winged stage in order to travel to other plants, at which point they are also commonly mistaken for fungus gnats. One simple way to distinguish all breeds of aphids from these other insects is to look for the conical tail protruding from the end part of their torso.
Root aphids are most destructive because they are quite adaptable to both indoor as well as outdoor conditions. When found outdoors, they are often accompanied by ants, which only further compounds the problem and makes their eradication that much more difficult. The ants will often carry the root aphids’ eggs to other locations, spreading the problem. Root aphids’ eggs are capable of surviving through the winter beneath the soil, or they will attach to low-hanging stems and leaves in the warm season, allowing the root aphids to fall to the soil once hatched.
Many commercial-grade soils also contain root aphid eggs. Probably the best advice for avoiding root aphids is to always avoid purchasing bagged soils unless they are from a local, reputable source. Additionally, avoid purchasing soil from large nurseries, or otherwise importing soil or compost from unknown locations. Always make your own soil and compost whenever possible.