Aphids Facts

Aphids Facts
Aphids, also known as plant lice or greenflies, are type of insects that belong to the group of true bugs. There are 4.400 species of aphids that can be found in temperate and tropical areas around the world. Aphids can be found wherever there are plants - their basic source of food. They decrease yield of agricultural crops, produce huge damage on garden plants and spread various plant diseases. Despite numerous commercially available insecticides, aphids are still numerous and widespread in the wild (they are not on the list of endangered species).
Interesting Aphids Facts:
Aphids can reach 0.04 to 0.39 inches in length.
Aphids can be yellow, orange, green, red, blue, purple, brown or black colored, depending on the species.
Aphids have soft body, small eyes, large antennas and mouth designed for sucking. Most species are wingless and have three pairs of legs.
Aphids eat both during the day and night.
Aphids use needle-like mouth to pierce the surface of leaves, stem, buds and root and obtain sugary plant sap. Since sap contains minimal amount of proteins, aphids ingest large quantities of this juice to satisfy their needs for proteins. Excess liquid is eliminated in the form of sticky droplets called honeydew.
Honeydew is favorite type of food for the many species of ants. To ensure regular supply of honeydew, ants protect aphids from the parasites, predators and cold weather (by keeping them in the anthills during the winter and bringing them back on the plants in spring).
Natural enemies of aphids are lady bugs, pirate bugs, big-eyed bugs, lacewings, crab spiders and stinging wasps.
Some species of aphids are unpalatable because of the spines or tough skin. Other species use hind legs to fight against the predators or they roll off the plant to escape from danger.
Many aphids have tube-shaped structures (called cornicles) on their abdomen. They can release waxy or foul-smelling substances which repel predators, and pheromones that inform other members of the groups about upcoming danger.
Females are able to produce offspring asexually (without males). This phenomenon, called parthenogenesis, takes place during the spring. Females give birth to live babies (babies are clones, exact genetic replica of mother).
Aphids undergo three developmental stages in their life (incomplete metamorphosis): egg, nymph and adult insect. Nymphs look like miniature version of adults.
Certain aphids produce female soldiers (nymphs that never transform into adult aphids) whose main purpose is to protect their mothers.
When food sources become scarce, females give birth to the generation of winged aphids that fly toward the next host where they can establish new colonies.
Aphids reproduce sexually during the autumn. Female lays eggs that overwinter and hatch at the beginning of the spring.
Aphids can survive from few weeks to few months, depending on the species.

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