Green Peach Aphid

Species


Myzus Persicae

Related Species
  • The Green Peach Aphid can be similar to the Tobacco aphid which is red or green

Host/site


  • Green peach aphids can be found worldwide and infest a wide range of plants and flowers including, but not limited to, cabbage, dandelions, tomatoes, spinach, beets, lettuce, potatoes, peaches, endive and bedding plants such as chrysanthemums. It is one of the most common aphid species found on peppers.
  • They generally feed on flowers, young foliage, stems and the underside of leaves, removing needed sap from plants causing yellowing, wilting and reduced plant growth.

Identification


Appearance
  • The adult Green Peach Aphid is light to dark green or pink with red eyes, antennae and three black stripes running down the back. Aphids may be more deeply pigmented during cool weather. Wings may or may not be present on the Green Peach aphid.
Indicators
  • The main damage caused by this species is the transmission of plant viruses. There are records of over 100 viruses transmitted through this species the most common being potato leaf roll, potato virus Y, beet mosaic, beet yellows, and lettuce mosaic.
  • Tell tale signs of an aphid infestation are wilting and abnormally slow growth. Honeydew or sooty mold on leaves, yellow spots on upper leaf surfaces, cast skins on leaves, curling of leaves, and distortion of new growth are signs of an aphid infestation.

Life Cycle


  • The life cycle varies widely depending on the presence of cold winters. In moderate climates they can be present all year round. Development can be rapid going from egg to adult in approximately 10-12 days. The average life span of the aphid is 23 days without the presence of predators. Wingless aphids will overwinter in the egg stage on prunus (a genus of trees and shrubs) while winged green peach aphids will migrate to other hosts. It is in this migratory flight that they most commonly spread viruses to healthy crop plants. Up to 8 generations may occur per host in the spring with the later generations developing wings, which then disperse to summer hosts. In the autumn, as the days shorten, male and female winged green peach aphids will disperse and colonize wherever space is available and the females will deposit eggs before taking flight again.

Natural Enemies


The most common natural predators to the green peach aphid are the lady beetle, syrphid (flower or hover) flies, lacewings, parasitic wasps, and entomopathogenic wasps, but hundreds of other have been recorded.

Monitoring


Be sure to look out for signs of aphids such as wilting and abnormally slow growth. Honeydew or sooty mold on leaves, yellow spots on upper leaf surfaces, cast skins on leaves, curling of leaves, and distortion of new growth are signs of an aphid infestation.

Action Threshold


Because green peach aphids overwinter on weed hosts, infestations can occur in the greenhouse any time of year. Although damage per aphid is often not serious, these aphids reproduce so rapidly that serious harm can be done in a short time. Therefore action should be taken at first sign of pest,

Cultural and Physical Controls


  • This aphid develops on crop and non-crop hosts so it is most important to remove crop residues and weed hosts prior to planting new crops.
  • Remember that plants will react to stress from environmental conditions, such as insufficient water or light. Providing the proper growing conditions will increase the plants ability to fight off pest and disease attacks. Weakened plants are much more vulnerable to attack by pests.
  • Using reflective mulches, such as aluminum or silver plastic early in the growing season will repel aphids from seedlings (UC Davis). This can also aid a plant by giving it more light. Take care to not use reflective mulches during times of high temperatures as the increased reflection may also cause scorching to the plant.
  • Aphids can be controlled by hosing them off with a sharp stream of water due to their soft bodies. First check the undersides of the leaves to be sure there are no lady beetle eggs or larvae present that are already eating the aphids. Most aphids will not climb back up onto the plant, but monitoring and repeated spraying may be necessary to control subsequent generations.
  • There are anecdotal reports of control of aphids using sprays made of garlic or chili peppers and water. The addition of a few drops of liquid soap may also increase effectiveness.
  • Interplanting flowering plants may increase populations of natural enemies (e.g., interplanting flowers between rows of cabbages will attract syrphid flies).
  • Do not overfertilize. Green peach aphid populations tend to be higher when excessive high nitrogen fertilizers are used.

Biological Controls


  • The most common and easily accessible predator used to control the aphid is ladybug.
  • Other predators include: lacewings, syrphid flies, damsel bugs, wasps, and parasitic fungi tend to regulate green peach aphid populations outdoors.
  • There has been considerable success using parasitoids, the entomopathogenic fungus Verticillium lecanii, and the predatory midge Aphidoletes aphidimyza for greenhouse-grown vegetables.
  • Strains of the fungus Beauveria bassiana provide good control of aphids, including green peach aphids. The fungus works by attaching to the outside of the pest, then penetrating into the body and killing it. The fungus is available commercially for purchase.

Chemical Controls


  • The green peach aphid has developed resistance to certain insecticides. Also, remember that the use of chemicals to control the spread of virus diseases is usually not effective.
  • Biological and cultural controls and sprays of insecticidal soap or pyrethrin are acceptable for use on organically certified crops (UC Davis). Neem is also considered less toxic. However, these sprays may also kill beneficial insects, such as lady beetles and honey bees so their use is only recommended as a last resort and must be used with great care. Some of these sprays require direct contact that can be difficult with aphids because they often hide under leaves or on new, sheltered growth. Sprays may also not be effective in cooler weather.

References


Capinera, John L. Featured Creatures: Green Peach Aphid. Fact Sheet. University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, July 2001. Web. 16 May 2010. <http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/veg/aphid/green_peach_aphid.htm>.

Green Peach Aphid. Fact Sheet. University of Minnesota, Feb. 2007. Web. 16 May 2010. <http://www.entomology.umn.edu/cues/inter/inmine/Aphidsgp.html>.

Howitt, Angus. Fruit IPM Factsheet; Green Peach Aphid. Fact Sheet. Michigan State University, 6 May 1997. Web. 16 May 2010. <http://www.canr.msu.edu/vanburen/fgpa.htm>.

Mau, Ronald F.L., and Jayma L. Martin Kessing. Myzus Persicae (Sulzer). Fact Sheet. Department of Entomology; Honolulu, Hawaii, Oct. 1991. Web. 16 May 2010. <http://www.extento.hawaii.edu/Kbase/crop/type/myzus.htm>.

UC IPM Pest Management Guidelines: Peppers

UC ANR Publication 3460, Dec. 1, 2009

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