Aphid predators are awesome insects that we should encourage into our gardens. We do this by learning about our gardens and trusting nature. To learn more about aphids, read this blog.
Aphid predators include:
Lady beetles and their larvae. Note that there are many different species of lady beetles and they range in colouring and markings. Their larvae also look very different from each other and from their parents.
Hover-flies and their larvae. Hover-flies are also excellent pollinators and their larvae look like caterpillars.
Parasitic wasps. There are many different species of wasps that lay their eggs in the bodies of live aphids. The larvae hatch and eat the aphid from the inside…
Lace wings can be brown or green. Their larvae also look different from each other. The brown larvae look like tiny earwigs without the clawed tail. The green larvae are the same but they are rarely seen without their backpacks. They carry the accumulated carcass’ of the victims on their backs and so all we usually see is a small jumble of skeletons walking around.
Aphid predators eat many sap sucking insects, including aphids.
Aphids are a small insect that suck the sap of some plants – usually unhealthy and sick plants. We need to realise that when we have an exotic plant in our garden, we are making that plant susceptible to attack. Why?
Aphids are attracted to sick or stressed plants
Plants evolve over eons as do their defence mechanisms. I’ve written a blog on resistant plants and how plants communicate with other plants, insects and microbes.
When we put a European or Asian any plant from a different region in our Australian soil we are taking it out of its natural habitat. This means we are shortcutting its natural defence mechanisms.
By doing so, we need to provide it with other conditions to help it thrive. One of these conditions is the soil. Read my blog on creating healthy soil. If we use synthetic fertilisers and then find our plants are attacked by aphids… it’s because we used synthetic fertiliser high in nitrogen. Remedy: go organic.
Even native plants can get attacked by aphids or other insects. Read this blog to see how I helped to increase a trees natural defence mechanism so that it could defend against borer insects. Therefore, healthy plants and trees can defend themselves if we given them what they need.
What plants need varies – just as it does with humans. However, plants have evolved with microbes and insects for eons.
Aphids numbers are kept in check by predators
Another condition is supplying it with a ready source of insect predators. There are many aphid predators including lady beetles and their larvae, hover flies and their larvae, lace wings and their larvae, wasps and their larvae etc. If we have a garden that encourages predator insects, any aphid infestation should attract our predators.
I’ve also written a blog on scale insects and their predators.
Insecticides kill aphids and also predators
However, if we use insecticides (including natural insecticides) we are creating a garden that affects predators.
Likewise, if we use synthetic insecticides, we are contributing to global insecticide resistance. Some species of aphids are resistant to almost every synthetic insecticide currently on the market.
Most often we don’t need to reach for the bottle of poison. As good and mindful gardeners we look and observe. We wait rather than react.
I’ve developed this video that shows a aphid infestation on a cordyline plant. It also shows a number of aphid predators including a lady beetle and mealy bug lady beetle larvae (they also eat aphids), and some parasitised aphids.