Prepared by Maher Jabado (Click here for more related topics) Back to Plant Insects

Commonly called plant lice.
Check the undersides of leaves, new shoots and buds for an oval shaped insect which grows up to 1/8th inch long with disproportionately long legs and antennae, some species also have wings. Aphids may be green, pink, brown, white, black, yellow, red or gray. They live in small colonies or groups and cause stunted growth, distortion of buds and leaves which if left untreated will cause the affected area to curl and die. The more difficult aphids to detect feed from the roots, tapping the pot can cause them to move when they are young, otherwise itís time to get the magnifying glass out! They also excrete a sticky honeydew which could attract a black sooty mold.

a) If small number of plants are affected;
Remove as many as possible by hand with a soft brush then take the plant and place it upside-down in a solution of soapy water (non-detergent). Be careful not to contaminate the soil with soap and cover the top of the pot with a plastic bag in order to prevent soil falling out. Swab the leaves with a soapy cloth and then rinse with clear tepid water. For heavy infestations, take the plant into a well ventilated area, preferably outside and spray the plant with malathion, a systemic or equivalent. A tough plant may be rinsed with the garden hose paying particular attention to the underside of the leaves.

b) If large number of plants is affected:
OPTION 1:Non Chemical management:
Select Non-chemical Management Options as Your First Choice!!
  • Avoid overfertilization, as high nitrogen levels in the plant encourage aphid reproduction. Switch to a slow-release or low-nitrogen formula.
  • Avoid use of broad-spectrum insecticides which kill natural predators and parasites of aphids (including ladybird beetles and larvae, green lacewings and larvae, and parasitic wasps).
  • Wash aphids from plants with a strong stream of water.
  • Visit the following studies for more ideas: and

OPTION 2: Chemical management:

Thorough coverage of the foliage is important, including leaf surfaces. Apply one of the following when aphids are first observed.

Active ingredient table for the above listed products:
Product Active Ingredient
Chemical disulfoton, trifluralin
Chemical pyrethrins
Chemical disulfoton
Chemical malathion
Chemical disulfoton
Safer Insecticidal Soap Multi-Purpose Insect Killer potassium salts of fatty acids