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Aphids

Aphids (plant lice) are common plant feeding insects. Usually, they do not occur in damaging numbers. Most mature aphids are about an eighth of an inch long and are yellow or light green. Each aphid has 6 thin legs, 2 antennae on the head, a pair of tubes on the back, and a slender “beak” which is pushed into plants to suck sap. Low aphid numbers usually do not result in plant damage. However, large aphid populations can cause wilting, yellowing, and curling of leaves. When aphids feed, they excrete “honeydew”; a sugary solution left after partial digestion of plant sap. The honeydew often turns black because a black fungus called sooty mold grows on them. A dense sooty mold growth shades out sunlight and affected leaves may be weakened. Aphid populations can be reduced by washing the terminals of sturdy plants, such as shrubs and trees, with strong water sprays from a garden hose.  A commercial brand of Insecticidal soap is the safest insecticide to use. Soap kills by contact, so coverage must be thorough. Repeat applications may be necessary.