Bromeliad Pests – Aphids

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Care and Culture, Growing Indoors, Growing Outdoors, Insects

Where there is one aphid, there are many more, because these tiny sucking insects always appear in groups.

Description: Where there is one aphid, there are many more, because these tiny sucking insects always appear in groups. They can hitch rides indoors on plants, people, or pets, and because female aphids are born pregnant, they quickly for colonies when they find a suitable host plant. Many plants can host aphids, which are most commonly found on tender young leaf tips, the undersides of new leaves, or the buds of blooming houseplants. Because aphids suck plant juices, infested stems and leaves often are curled or distorted.

Most aphids are less than 1/12 in (.3 cm) long, round or oval in shape, with colors that range from green to yellow to red. Some aphids develop wings, while others do not. When many aphids fiend on a plant, they leave behind a sticky residue that makes leaves shiny and often causes gummy speck to form on tabletops and floors beneath infested plants.

Control: Fortunately, aphids are not difficult to control. The first thing to do is clip off stem tips that are heavily infested. If only a few aphids are present, you can remove them with a cotton swab dipped in alcohol. For more serious infestations on large plants, clean the plants thoroughly in a luke-warm shower or take them outdoors and spray them with a fine spray from the hose. The spray will dislodge many aphids, though some will survive hidden away in leaf crevices. You can get these stow-aways by repeating the procedure after a few days. Very small plants can be cleaned by dipping them in a sink of soapy water after first enclosing the container and soil in a tightly wrapped plastic bag (see my post on The Dope On Soap for more details). Insecticidal soap kills aphids quickly and easily, so it is a good idea to make a practice of spraying all plants kept outdoors in the summer with a diluted soap spray before you bring them indoors in the fall.

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