Aphids are mostly known for eating leaves. They need the sap rich in sugar and water to survive. Aphids can also eat other foods such as stems, plant roots, and even fruits.
Aphids use their stylus (sharp mouthpart) to pierce leaves and fruits. They then drink the liquids of the plant.
Aphids eat plant and tree leaves such as potato leaves or willow tree leaves. They can also consume plant roots, stems, flowers, and fruit. Aphids need to eat a lot as leaves are rich in sugar and low in protein.
All the plant juices aphids cannot digest are excreted as honeydew.
Aphids have a very wide diet and the ability to fly. They can easily travel from one plant to another or between trees to get to new leaves and new sources of food.
They tend to remain active in the winter when they also look for food. As a result, aphids can cause considerable damage to crops, ornamental plants, fruit trees, and ornamental trees.
Where do aphids look for food?
Aphids are known to eat leaves. The signs of aphids are seen in curved leaves or yellowing leaves in the garden. But aphids can also drink sap from other areas of the plant as long as they can pierce it with their sharp mouthparts.
Aphids primarily feed on leaves. They like leaves as they’re easy to pierce and easy to draw liquid from. There’s a wide range of leaves these insects are interested in from leaves of plants and flowers to the leaves of trees.
Certain aphids feed on plant stems. For example, aphids feeding on rose flowers are often seen eating rose plant stems.
Some aphids are known to dig deep seeking roots to feed on. Certain species lay eggs in the ground where the developing larvae immediately start to feed on plant roots.
Aphids are known to overwinter better than other invasive species. Some aphid species are particularly interested in overwintering in the ground next to tree roots. They feed on the roots through the winter before being ready to emerge in the spring.
Aphids are also known for eating fruits. Similar to the nutritional value of plant leaves, fruits are rich in sugars.
Some aphids are known for eating flowers. They pierce and drink sap rich in nutrients from various flowers. Aphids also eat flowers that grow indoors.
Common types of aphid food
Aphids drink the liquid sap in plant leaves. They use their sharp mouthparts to pierce through other areas of the plant such as its roots as well. Aphids start to eat from their larvae stages. Some of their most common foods include the following.
Mustard is one of the preferred plants for aphids. Multiple species of aphids are known to eat mustard.
These species include Mustard-green aphids, Cabbage aphids, and Turnip aphids. They are known to invade mustard crops quickly.
Aphids love mustard so much that they even lay eggs on mustard plants. Most aphid eggs are found on the underside of mustard leaves.
Aphids are very attracted to nasturtiums. These colorful plants are so attractive to aphids that they are used as a decoy to save other plants.
Nasturtiums are known to grow quickly without much care. Farmers plant these flowers to attract aphids away from their crops.
Aphids eat all parts of nasturtiums including flowers, leaves, and stems. They also lay eggs on the underside of nasturtium leaves.
Roses are known to attract multiple species of aphids such as the Common Rose Aphid (Macrosiphum rosae).
These aphids might not kill roses whenever they are grown on a commercial scale. However, rose aphids cause economic losses as they damage the flower and the foliage of roses to the extent they cannot be sold anymore. Aphids kill rose plants in gardens.
Potato aphids are native to the US. Since potatoes have been exported throughout the world the Potato aphid is now seen on almost all continents.
Potato aphids mainly eat potato plant leaves. They always lay eggs on potato leaves and stems. Potato aphids are known for laying eggs both on the top and on the underside of potato plant leaves.
Pepper plants are known to attract aphids. Aphids on pepper plants are known to affect both the plant and the pepper fruit.
Gardens can be invaded by aphids that eat pepper to the extent that the fruits are compromised. The underside of leaves is where aphids lay eggs on pepper plants.
Cabbage aphids are some of the most damaging aphids as they impact cabbages and other vegetables. These aphids are recognized by their gray color which appears white on cabbage by contrast.
Cabbage aphids eat entire cabbage leaves. Some aphids stop at the outer leaves while other aphids prefer the softer inner leaves of cabbages.
Spinach aphids incorporate multiple sub-species such as the Green peach aphid and the Bean aphid. Spinach leaves are entirely consumed by aphids and aphid larvae.
There’s no clear method of keeping aphids away from spinach. Farmers use covers that go over entire rows of spinach or insecticides to save spinach crops from invasive aphids. Alternatively, they might introduce ladybug populations to prey on aphids.
Asparagus aphids are known to be winged or wingless. They are mostly interested in eating young asparagus and tend to be the most problematic in the first days of asparagus emergence from the ground.
Lady beetles and lacewings are often used to protect asparagus crops from aphids. All emerging asparagus can be lost if no action is taken.
Melon aphids are known to populate tropical and temperate regions where melons grow. These insects feed on the underside of melon leaves which can stunt melon growth.
Melons grown at home aren’t of high risk since they are only grown sporadically. Commercial melon crops are at the highest risk of an aphid invasion.
Wooly apple aphids are known to attack apple trees. These and other aphids feed on the leaves of the tree.
Apple trees also suffer from aphids feeding directly on their roots. Aphids lay larvae on the ground where they can dig deep towards the roots.
Black Cherry Aphids are known to invade cherry trees. These aphids feed on tree leaves as well as on the cherry fruits.
Since cherry trees can be high, measures of limiting aphid populations are limited. Encouraging lady beetles is one of the efficient measures to keep aphids away from cherry trees.
Tomato plants are always impacted by aphids. Most aphids aren’t interested in the fruits of the plants or they attack the tomato plant before it bears fruit.
Tomato leaves are the most impacted by aphids. Hand removal is recommended given the delicate nature of tomato plants doesn’t allow for heavy pesticide use.
Essential oils can be used to protect tomato plants at home. While too expensive for commercial-scale use, essential oils can be sprayed on tomatoes to keep aphids away from the garden.
Neem oil is one of the preferred choices to keep tomatoes at home safe from aphids.
Milkweed aphids (Oleander aphids) are known to eat entire milkweed flowers. These aphids are among those known for their bright coloring.
Milkweed aphids can be recognized by their bright yellow coloring. These vivid colors keep certain predators away while the aphids feast on milkweeds. However, lady beetles are known to eat Oleander aphids.
Pine trees are at risk when it comes to aphids. Young pine trees are among the most exposed when it comes to a possible invasion that can even kill the tree.
White pine aphids are known to invade pine trees. These aphids are very perseverant as they attack the leaves, pine twigs, and the tree trunk itself. White pine aphids also eat the roots of pine trees.
Oak aphids are known to eat oak leaves, stems, and tree trunks. These aphids look for the freshest tree sap they can find on oaks.
One of the second problems Oak aphids cause is attracting wasps such as the European wasp. Aphids drink sap and eliminate honeydew.
The honeydew sticks on the leaves of oak trees essentially attract wasps and other insects.
While oak trees rarely die from aphid invasion they can quickly become sick. Yellowing leaves are a sign of an aphid invasion on oak trees.
Aphids primarily drink tree and plant sap. They do this by piercing the plant and by slowly eating through the leaves.
Young plants and young trees are the favorites of aphids. A smaller number of aphids are known to favor dying plants which is why some people recommend keeping them in the best shape to keep aphids away.
Aphids prefer certain types of foods. Some aphids only eat a certain type of plant while others are seen eating multiple plants and even fruits.
Aphids continuously eat plants as they don’t die in the winter. Larvae and adult aphids often hide below ground level next to plant and tree roots which they feed on through the winter.