what are aphids and what are they for?

Published on 26 May 2023 at 07:00

What are aphids and what do they do?

Aphids are small insects that feed on plant juices. They are usually green, yellow, pink or black in color and have a soft body and long, thin legs and antennae. Aphids are a common problem in horticulture and agriculture because they can reproduce quickly and cause extensive damage to crops.

Aphids feed by inserting their mouthparts into the plant tissues and sucking sap. This can lead to weakened, misshapen or dying plants. In addition, aphids can also transmit viruses to plants, further increasing the damage.

There are several ways to control aphids, including using insecticides, natural enemies such as ladybugs and parasitic wasps, and manually removing the aphids from the plants. Preventing aphids can also help by growing healthy plants and checking regularly for signs of a pest attack.

What is the relationship between the ant and the aphid?

Ants have a symbiotic relationship with aphids, meaning both species benefit from each other. Aphids feed on plant juices and excrete a sweet liquid known as honeydew. Ants love honeydew and therefore protect aphids against their natural enemies, such as ladybugs, parasitic wasps and predatory mites.

Ants "milk" the aphids by sliding their antennae over the body of the aphids, causing the aphids to produce more honeydew. In return, the ants protect the aphids from predators and move the aphids to new plants when the old plants no longer provide enough food.

While this relationship can be beneficial for both species, it can also lead to overpopulation of aphids and ultimately damage to plants. In addition, ants can promote the spread of aphids to other plants. Therefore, it may sometimes be necessary to control both the aphids and the ants to maintain the health of the plants.

Do the ants bring the aphids to their nests in winter? And how does the aphid survive the winter?

Ants do not bring the aphids to their nests in winter. Aphids have different strategies for surviving the winter, depending on the species and environmental conditions.

Some aphids lay eggs in the fall that can survive the winter. Other species produce a generation of winged female aphids in the fall, which fly off and settle on a new plant to start their own colony. These new colonies can produce aphids again in the spring.

Some aphids also have the ability to overwinter on the plants they feed on. They can hide in the winter under the bark of trees, in crevices of stones or in other sheltered areas.

In general, aphids are better adapted to warmer temperatures and will attempt to disperse to a new host plant in the fall to avoid having to survive in cold conditions.

It is possible that ants sometimes bring aphids into their nests, for example near a heat source, but this is not the aphid's normal survival strategy and is uncommon.