Aphids – Pest Profile


  1. Description
  2. Commonly Attacked Plants
  3. Damage
  4. Common Species
  5. Management
  6. Control

Aphids are small (usually about 1/8 inch) sap-sucking insects. They are members of the superfamily Aphidoidea. Aphids are commonly called greenfly and blackfly although colors vary greatly. These can also include red, pink or yellow. One particular species known as the Wooly Aphid is covered with white strands of wax resembling cotton. These insects have soft bodies and piercing/sucking mouths. One distinctive characteristic of the aphid is the two elongated cornicles that protrude from the abdomen of most species. The cornicles resemble tail pipes.

Commonly Attacked Plants

Aphids occur most plant species but are most commonly found on the following:

  • Crape Myrtles
  • Roses
  • Silver Maple
  • River Birch
  • Sugarberry

Aphids can damage plants by sucking the plants sap. They also transmit plant diseases. While small numbers of aphids do not cause much damage to the host plant, they are known for rapid reproduction and for their ability to swarm the plant in very large numbers. Female aphids are able to reproduce by a method known as parthenogenesis, in which no male is needed. They also can complete a generation in as little as seven days. Feeding can commonly be seen on young leaves as well as terminal tissue.

The effect of the large numbers of aphids eating the leaves with their piercing mouths can result in distorted growth. As the aphids consume the sap, they excrete large amounts of undigested plant sugars known as honeydew. This honeydew accumulation can cause the surface of the leaves to become sticky. It can also cause the growth of mold. While not directly dangerous for the plant, as the sooty mold builds up it can begin to interfere with photosynthesis. This can also be annoying to humans as it accumulates on hard surfaces like vehicles and lawn furniture.

Common Species

Common species include the crape myrtle aphid named for it’s host. The wooly alder aphid is common on silver maples. Asian wooly hackberry species is a non-native species commonly seen on sugarberry trees. The oleander species commonly attacks oleander and butterfly weed (found in butterfly gardens). Yellow pecan and black pecan species are also common.

lawn care pest profile aphid


Consider succeptibility to aphid attacks when selecting varities of plants such as crape myrtles. If caught early, heavy concentrations of aphids can simply be washed off with a garden hose. Besides humans, aphids have predators in the wild. These include lady beetles and lacewings. Parasitic wasps and fungal diseases also have a large impact on aphid populations.


Aphids occur most plant species but are most commonly found on the following:

  • Acephate
  • Azadirachtin
  • Imidacloprid
  • Malathion
  • Dinotefuran
  • Insecticidal soap
  • Pyrethirins + Canola Oil

Insect Pests of ornamental plants in the home landscape – Mississippi State University Extension Service – 2011