Aphid is considered to be one of the most common insect pests in agriculture. These transmitters of viral diseases are practically everywhere, from horticultural crops to ornamentals. One or two can be harmless to a plant, but large populations of these insects can be deadly especially for peppers. And they can easily make their way into your pepper plants, whether they are indoors or outdoors.
These insects are quite small, and can only grow up to ¼ of an inch. Which is why you hardly notice that they are on your plants unless there’s already a swarm of them sticking on the leaves or stems. Aphids have very soft bodies, almost jelly-like, and oval to pear in shape. Furthermore, they have piercing-sucking mouthparts and feed on plants by sucking out its nutrients either on the stems, leaves, fruits and even flowers.
Now, several types of aphids are considered to be agricultural pests. And four of them are known to be the most common aphid pests of peppers.
Green Peach Aphid
Scientific Name: Myzis persicae (Sulzer)
The nymph and adult-laying form of Green Peach Aphids are what you would usually see latched on in your crops in large colonies. The nymphs are green in color and smaller as compared to the adults which turn yellowish to yellow-green. The eggs are initially yellowish-green in color but eventually become black before hatching. But, once there is a population boom of these aphids on a plant, some adults start producing winged adult versions of these aphids. They have yellow-green abdomens and black heads. And these winged-adults are dispatched to disperse and start populating other plant hosts.
The most damaging stage of Green Peach Aphids is the nymphs and adults which are very active during hot months. They can cause a number of serious damage to crops. And these include wilting, water stress, and even reduction in the growth rate of the plant. But the most serious damage these aphids can incur is the transmission of about a hundred different viruses, making them one of the most destructive aphid species. Some of the viral diseases they are capable of transmitting are the Mosaic Virus, Potato Leafroll Virus, Potato Virus Y, and the Beet Yellows Virus. The Green Peach Aphid has a very wide host range of crops, some of which include root crops, leafy vegetables, field crops, and peppers.
Scientific Name: Aphis gossypii (Glover)
The winged adults have black heads while their abdomens are yellowish-green in color with black tips, and their wings are brown in color. Meanwhile, the wingless adults have a varying body color from dark green to yellowish-green, and pale green. Females are capable of laying about 70 to 80 eggs in one cycle and are usually yellow in color but become black after a few days. Upon hatching, emerging nymphs have bodies that are gray or green in color along with a black head. What’s unique about them are the wing pads attached to their bodies.
Thanks to their sucking method for feeding, these aphids often cause curling of young leaves, wilting, and even stunting. Most leaves turn chlorotic and suffer an early death. And the common viruses these Melon Aphids transmit include Cucumber Mosaic Virus, Watermelon Mosaic Virus, Bean Common Mosaic Virus, and Yellow Mosaic Virus. Melon aphids are quite common and are known to have about 700 host plants worldwide. So named because of their love for melons, they also have a penchant for other crops. Some of these include ornamental Hibiscus species, cucurbits, citrus species, capsicum species, and even chilies.
Scientific Name: Microsiphum euphorbiae
The nymphs of Potato Aphids are yellowish green in color and have a characteristic longitudinal stripe across its body. Wingless adults are medium sized have greenish to pinkish pear shaped bodies. And their legs are relatively longer as compared to other aphids. Meanwhile, the winged adults are a bit smaller with dark green to magenta bodies. Their wings also have a characteristic skewed shape veins. What’s common to this species of aphids is their tapering shape as well as the presence of some lateral hairs.
Observable stunting of growth, curling, and deformation of leaves, as well as premature leaf fall, can be observed due to the excessive feeding. Although Potato Aphids are considered to be less threatening to crops as compared to the two mentioned above, they can still transmit viruses. And these include Tomato and Potato Mosaic Viruses, Leaf Roll Virus, and Spindle tuber virus. Potato aphids are so named because they commonly infest potatoes but these insects also have a wide host range. Tomatoes, peppers, corn, peas, sweet potatoes, and some weed species are just a few of its favorite crops.
Although these aphids may seem small and are only damaging when in large populations, it’s still important to have a good idea of what types of aphids you are dealing with. They can simply pop up out of nowhere and next thing you know they are already latched on your peppers. Aphids are normally active during the summer season when the weather is hot. Make sure to check your peppers for infestation especially during these months.
Read more on the 5 Effective Ways To Control Aphids on Pepper Plants.