Melon Aphid

Aphis gossypii

Melon Aphid, Cotton Aphid, Melon and Cotton Aphid, Betelvine Aphid, Cucurbits Aphid, Green Aphis, Greenfly

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A close up image of cotton and melon aphids Aphis gossypii on a cotton leaf
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Aphis gossypii is a tiny, soft-bodied insect, that belongs to the True Bug insect order (Hemiptera). They're closely related to Scale and Mealybug insects; and like these, they suck the sap from plants. These aphids are a common garden problem in warmer climates, whereas towards the Northern hemisphere they can only persist in greenhouses.
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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

Adults: Grown adults are small (only reaching 2mm). They have two main forms: a larger green adult; or a smaller yellow one. They can either be winged or wingless. They are often seen in large groups near the tips of plants, where new growth is most prominent. Nymphs: Just like the adults, but much smaller.

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 Cucurbitaceae, Rutaceae and Malvaceae families.

Repels

These aphids have several natural enemies, including a handful of parasitic wasps.
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