Cherry Blackfly

Myzus cerasi

Cherry Blackfly, Black Cherry Aphid, Black Aphid

Photo by Jamie Hunter (CC BY 4.0)
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A close up of a green plant infested with Myzus cerasi
Photo by Jamie Hunter (CC BY 4.0)
1 of 5
Deal with aphids organically: Method 4
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Deal with aphids organically: Method 4
Deal with aphids organically: Method 3
Deal with aphids organically: Method 3
Deal with aphids organically: Method 2
Deal with aphids organically: Method 2
Cherry Blackflies are tiny sap-feeding aphids, found mostly on fruiting Cherry trees. Myzus cerasi is commonly seen in dense groupings, typically concentrated near new growth, buds and flowers. Aphids secrete a sticky, clear liquid called honeydew. Honeydew can sometimes make infestations worse by attracting ants or black sooty moulds to plants. Blackfly infestations may also turn leaves yellow, or new growth may appear unsightly and disfigured. Luckily, Aphids are relatively easy to manage; mostly because other insects, birds and animals will eat them. Likewise, they can be easily removed with a jet of water from the garden hose!

Traits

Leaves may curl or become deformed, or sometimes plants produce galls.
Aphids are preyed upon by many other insects and animals.

Appearance

Adults: Aphids are so small they can be challenging to detect when infestations are small. They're soft-bodied, green (or pinkish-grey and black) and roughly 2mm. They can be winged or wingless. Nymphs: Young Aphids are almost identical to the adults, they are just smaller, and all of them are wingless.

Symptoms

Dense groupings aphids under the young leaves and tip growth. Leaves curl at the margins. Leaves turn yellow and dry out. Leaves fall prematurely. Ants may be attracted to Honeydew, protecting aphids from predators. Sticky drops of honeydew on leaves. Black sooty moulds on leaves.

Activity

Diurnal

Personality

Order

Hemiptera

Family

Aphididae

Metamorphosis

Incomplete

Distribution

Worldwide

Biological treatment

General good housekeeping can help prevent infestations. Monitor plants for symptoms and insects regularly to catch infestations early, especially if plants are young. Companion planting with strong-smelling herbs such as Basil, Chive, Allium and mint are believed to deter aphid activity. Nasturtium is a brilliant buffer plant which can attract insects away from vegetables and fruits. Aphids aggregate in areas of new growth, so be sure to check in all the nooks of plants, especially under leaves! For heavier infestations, treat plants with a strong jet of water to dislodge the insects from the plant. Alternatively, use a light, soapy mixture sprayed on the plant or even just squashing them. Indoor plants can be rinsed under a tap or shower. A mixture of tomato leaf and distilled water is believed to repel aphids. Once the leaves are drained, dilute the remaining mix with 1-2 cups of water. Tomato plants contain the same allergens as nightshade. It's not advised to use this method if allergic to nightshade. Garlic or chilli-based sprays diluted with water can act as a natural insect repellent. Placing ant traps near infested plants will help to control secondary ant infestations. Aphids possess an array of natural enemies (ladybirds, wasps and lacewings, to name a few!). Attract beneficial insects by planting a selection of indigenous plants, incorporating an insect hotel, or by letting some bits of the garden grow wild.

Chemical treatment

Wherever possible, Aphids should be tolerated on plants because they are food for other wildlife. Aphid populations tend to peak during spring, but die off when natural enemies become more apparent later in the summer. When using chemicals, it’s always best to act when nymphs (immature aphids) are most active, which tends to be in the spring. Assess plant size. Full pesticide coverage for trees and large shrubs is expensive, if not impossible, to achieve. Likewise, apply pesticides before flowering occurs. Removing beneficial insects can make pest problems worse in later years. Contact insecticides containing natural plant oils can be more environmentally benign than synthetic pesticides. Look out for products containing natural pyrethrums, fatty acids and plant oils. Any product containing oil should be applied during colder periods of the day. Always read label instructions, taking care not to spray flowering plants.

Attracts

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