Avoid the aphids

Avoid the aphids

The green peach aphid and the melon aphid are formidable pests, but they don't have to wreck your pepper crop.

Two prominent pests of greenhouse peppers are the green peach aphid (Myzus persicae) and the melon aphid, sometimes called the cotton aphid (Aphis gossypii). Arm your staff with the knowledge of how to ID these pests and make sure you're taking preventive measures to keep them at bay.

Green peach aphid

Description: This soft bodied, pear-shaped insect (bottom photo) is usually wingless and about 1/16 inch long. The wingless female is pale yellow-green. The winged migrant form has a yellowish green abdomen with a dark dorsal blotch. Both forms have a pair of tailpipe-like appendages known as cornicles. Nymphs are smaller than adults but similar in shape. They are pale yellow-green with three dark lines on the abdomen. All stages can be recognized by the shape of the frontal tubercles (on the front of the head at the antennal bases).

Life cycle: The green peach aphid has a complicated life cycle. It breeds continuously, and many generations are produced each year. The green peach aphid does not have a pupal stage; instead, each nymphal stage appears more like the adult. In the northern United States, green peach aphids overwinter as eggs, but in the Southeast, no eggs are laid. Female aphids give birth to young females during the growing season. High reproductive rates and resistance to pesticides make the green peach aphid a formidable pest in the greenhouse.

Damage: The green peach aphid has piercing sucking mouthparts, and feeds by inserting these mouthparts into plant tissue and sucking out the sap. Feeding interferes with proper nutrient transfer in the plant. This aphid can transmit more than 100 diseases, including cucumber mosaic virus on peppers. It also causes damage from the large amount of honeydew and subsequent sooty mold left behind.

Look for leaves that appear curled, distorted and discolored. Small to medium sized aphid populations are easily overlooked.

Continue reading.

Photo: Melon aphids with mummies.

Photo (top) M. Spellman; (bottom) J. Baker, NCSU, Bugwood.org

Source: The Producer

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