Aphids , have they never heard of birth control !
In fact they can really get to work, giving birth to live young and eggs. These eggs are how they get through the cold, just waiting in crooks of trees, or your greenhouse, until spring to hatch.
Just mention without comment girls, these eggs all turn out to be daughters ! (Males don’t turn up until around October)
We thank Troy Newton for this photo
Don’t really know if it’s true that Aphids could cover the world if not stopped,but they can certainly make a good job of covering your garden !
What can we do to at least slow them down? Well, how about ensuring you have loads of plants that ladybirds and lacewings like. Their larvae love an aphid lunch, and dinner, and tea. Fennel, dill, angelica, dyers camomile and coriander are some herbs they are partial to. Calendula, golden rod, french marigolds and most spring flowers help. (Adults love a nectar breakfast after a long winters sleep)
This photo is by Kim Gormley, thanks Kim
Hover flies* also have very hungry aphid eating larvae, and they are quite fond of all these plants too. They also particularly seem to like brightly coloured flowers filled with nectar. Tagetes perhaps ?
However, there is a little problem with this plan, and it’s obvious when you think about it. Aphids and all these hungry larvae often like the same plants, if for very different reasons. So we also have a plan B !
The plan works brilliantly in the greenhouse, and is very effective in the garden (particularly if we could teach those Blue Tits to leave the good guy larvae off the lunch menu !)
Aphidius and Praon are tiny wasps, whose sole purpose in life is to munch up aphids. Just let these tiny little creatures loose, alongside some Aphidoletes larvae. These larvae turn into little midges, but they will not bite you, just aphids.
O.K., I’m just as squeamish as you are. But these are all natures creatures, we’re just ensuring that they get together - while at the same time helping our broad beans, roses and all those other plants that we spend hours tending at least get the best possible natural protection.
*You know, I always feel very sorry for hoverflies. Their babies look like slugs - so are often squished - then when they grow up people wop them because they think they are wasps ! It’s a tough life for a really helpful little insect !