Oleander Aphid

Aphis nerii

Oleander Aphid, Milkweed Aphid, Sweet Pepper Aphid, Nerium Aphid

Aphid May 2010-5 by Alvesgaspar (CC BY-SA 3.0)
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A close up photo of an Aphis nerii Oleander aphid on a plant
Aphid May 2010-5 by Alvesgaspar (CC BY-SA 3.0)
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
Oleander Aphids are tiny insects belonging to the order of True Bugs (Hemiptera). They are distinctively bright yellow with a preference for Oleander plants (Nerium oleander), although you may find colonies of these on Milkweeds (Asclepias sp.) and Periwinkle (Vinca sp.) too. Their colouration acts as a signal warning predators they're distasteful to eat. Nonetheless, these aphids have several natural enemies to help control their numbers. These aphids are widespread across gardens.
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Traits

Aphids can team up with ants which make the infestation worse.
An abundant food resource for predatory insects such as parasitic wasps.

Appearance

The adults are vivid yellow-orange or lemon-yellow and difficult to miss. The antennae and legs are black. They feed primarily on Nerium oleander, however, are known to overspill onto other plants belonging to Asclepidaceae, Asteraceae, Convolvulaceae and Euphorbiaceae plant families. Nymphs tend to look like adults but are smaller in size, are slightly paler, and lack wings.

Symptoms

Copious amounts of honeydew may be evident near the site aphids are present. Honeydew can encourage the growth of black mould, so this may be notable too. Damage seldom permanent. Plants may begin to wilt and die back. Ants may be found near or on the infested plants.

Activity

Diurnal

Personality

Order

Hemiptera

Family

Aphididae

Metamorphosis

Incomplete

Distribution

Worldwide

Biological treatment

These aphids provide an abundance of food for wildlife active during autumn. General good housekeeping can help prevent any insect pest infestation. Before planting, be mindful of the space you leave between crops and shrubs. Weeds and plant debris can facilitate a bad pest infestation. Planting strong-smelling herbs such as basil, chive and mint are believed to deter aphid activity. Aphids aggregate in areas of new growth, so be sure to check in all the nooks of plants. Aphids can also be treated with a strong jet of water to dislodge them from the plant; or, a light, soapy mixture applied to the plant or even just squashing them. A mixture of tomato leaf and distilled water is believed to deter 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. Aphids can sometimes attract ants to the infested area because of the honeydew they produce. An ant colony will protect aphids so they can farm their honeydew. Placing ant traps near infested plants will help to prevent any secondary infestations. Aphids possess an array of natural enemies (ladybirds, wasps and lacewings, to name a few!). These can be attracted into the garden by planting a selection of indigenous plants, incorporating an insect hotel, or by letting some parts 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. Assess the level of damage for the time of year before taking action with chemicals. When using chemicals, it’s always best to act when nymphs (immature aphids) are most active, which tends to be in the spring (and sometimes late summer). Assess the plants' size. Full pesticide coverage for trees and large shrubs is expensive, if not impossible, to achieve. Apply pesticides before flowering occurs. Sprays can be indiscriminate killers, killing the useful insects as well as the bad. 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. Synthetic pyrethroids that are available for home use include ingredients: Deltamethrin, lambda-cyhalothrin and cypermethrin. These possess a stronger mode of action, persisting in the environment for longer periods. They can be applied less frequently.

Attracts

These aphids could be found on any plant within the Asclepidaceae, Asteraceae, Convolvulaceae and Euphorbiaceae families.

Repels

These aphids have several natural enemies, including a handful of parasitic wasps. These aphids will turn on their backs and kick their legs back and forth in perfect timing with each other when they feel threatened by predators.
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