Aphids are one of the most dangerous garden pests, spreading through the garden at an alarming rate. Even a week’s delay in taking action can wipe out crops in vegetable, fruit, and ornamental gardens, and weaken your favorite crops.
Some plants are more resistant to aphids, while others are real favorites and hard to avoid when the pest strikes. Aphids always cause particular damage to berry bushes. And the control of the ubiquitous aphids on currants and Ribes uva-crispa is not in vain considered very difficult.
HOW HARMFUL ARE APHIDS ON BERRY TREES?
Aphids are one of the most widespread pests, feeding on the sap of plants. Hundreds of species of aphids cause problems for gardeners in the height of summer. Aphids are particularly active during the flowering period, but in warm weather, plants are not immune to aphids at all stages of the growing season.
The ability to lay up to 50 clutches of eggs in the summer and the rapid rate of spread on neighboring plants make aphid control measures urgent.
Aphids are easy to spot on plants: these small greenish, brown, or black insects, up to 7 mm long, have a characteristic proboscis and form colonies at the base of young leaves, shoots, and buds.
They are easily seen by the naked eye. Aphids also produce honeydew (the sticky coating of plants), spots, leaf curling, and rapid wilting of unopened flower buds.
Aphids feed on sap, causing loss of leaves and buds and destroying seedling growth, not only weakening plants or depriving them of long-awaited harvests but also creating a favorable environment for viral and fungal diseases. Aphids put weakened shrubs at risk of death during winter and related problems.
5 BERRY BUSHES FAVORED BY APHIDS
When putting together a berry bush collection, it’s worth considering the species’ resistance to pests and diseases, including aphids. Completely invincible plants simply do not exist, and even the most resistant cultivars can be affected by it if care is seriously misplaced and lacking.
But there are varieties that, even with the best modern cultivars chosen and impeccable care, are hardly immune to aphids if they appear in the field. Once settled on any plant – be it an ornamental or a vegetable – aphids immediately become a considerable threat to these favorite berry plants.
Red raspberry is the sweetest berry of summer, thorny and so special that it requires not only careful care but also special vigilance. The thorny shoots with their beautiful pubescent leaves make it difficult to get a close look, but it is vital.
Without precautions, even if the species is advertised as more hardy, it will not escape the attention of aphids. Even at a significant distance from other infested plants, the likelihood of infestation is greater than high.
On raspberries, leaf and bud aphids are the most common. The insect affects not only the leaves but also the shoots and is often not limited to “young plants”, spreading at an alarming rate and overwintering perfectly. In addition to the general weakening of the plant, the aphid is also harmful to the loss of immunity to the Red raspberry virus infection.
If young shoots begin to shrivel, Red raspberry is unlikely to be saved. Prevention is the surest option, but if aphids do colonize the raspberry, you need to start treating immediately with a systemic insecticide and, if necessary, refuse to eat the crop to save the bush.
Compact, abundant fruit, even with moderate care, amazing weather resistance, unfortunately, does not show the desired resistance to aphids. On magnificent shrubs with straight branches, insects are completely visible. Infestation is easily suspected by the exfoliation, swelling, and deformation of the leaves.
This type of Redcurrant (as well as white or pink) is adored by gall aphids. The spread of the insects on the shrub inevitably leads to the withering of young shoots. And usually, the result is the loss of the next year’s crop and a long struggle with the infection.
Red currant bushes should be carefully inspected from the beginning of green growth to the end. Preventive treatment is effective, but the main secret of controlling aphids and their consequences is the timeliness of measures. And be consistent: after the eradication of the aphids themselves, the bushes that have lost their young growth should be carefully protected from any adversity.
A major berry shrub and a favorite, blackcurrant is considered a reliable, hardy, and easy-to-grow variety. The main secret to success and high yields is timely pruning and at least minimal care.
However, while the black currant is highly resistant to disease, the same cannot be said for pests and diseases. Aphids are one of the most dangerous enemies of black currants, threatening not only the yield but also the death of the plant.
On modern varieties of black currant shrubs, there are almost no gall aphids, but Ribes uva-crispa rowan aphids are quite harmful to the plants. This pest is easily recognized by the curled upper leaves.
Large areas of green loss and damage to young and terminal buds effectively destroy the “fruits” of growth for the entire season. Weakened bushes do not overwinter well and will not produce a bumper crop for several more years. And the damage to the stamina is so great that almost all currants are also virally infected with the disease.
On blackcurrants, aphids are easier to prevent. If you remember to keep the plants clean, control weeds, and provide normal care, the risk is reduced. Preventive treatments are also effective. Spraying with protection products should be started as soon as signs of leaf deformation appear.
The most problematic berry, which for many people becomes a cause of disappointment and a real breeding ground for viruses and diseases, Ribes uva-crispa is in principle not resistant to disease. It is one of the first varieties that are highly susceptible to aphids even under uncompromising care.
The most widespread aphid on Ribes uva-crispa is, as you can easily guess, the Ribes uva-crispa aphid (aphid bud), although there are more than twenty other aphids that can attack the shrub. Infestations show up as bloated red spots, curling of young leaves (into “balls”), and swarms of ants.
Ribes uva-crispa rowan aphids spread extremely quickly and even a few days’ delay in control can cause irreparable damage. If aphids weaken the shrubs, they are likely to die from viral infection and have no chance of survival.
On Ribes uva-crispa, the bet is on prevention. Sanitary measures, including pruning and early spring spraying with any systemically acting insecticide preparation, are the key to the health of Ribes uva-crispa. And if aphids do appear in the garden, it is necessary to continue treating Ribes uva-crispa with at least biological agents throughout the season.
The major honeysuckle cultivars once considered nearly invulnerable can no longer be considered aphid-resistant. Climate change and warmer winters have made aphids increasingly active in spreading on this early-producing berry. Honeysuckle cultivars threatened by specific aphids include spruce honeysuckle, grain honeysuckle, and feather honeysuckle.
Recognizing the aphid on honeysuckle is easy. The insect prefers to feed on young shoots, causing them to stop growing, deform and turn yellow. It is important to check not only the top of the buds but also the upper leaves regularly.
Preventative treatment of honeysuckle with systemic insecticides before the buds wake up. Preventive measures should be taken especially for plants that have been infected with diseases in previous seasons. If the plants are already infested with aphids, prune the bush after harvesting and remove all affected shoots.
HOW CAN I CONTROL APHIDS IN BERRY BUSHES?
For all berry bushes, it is recommended to use microbial mimics, herbal infusions, soap solutions, and ash infusions, and in cases where lesions are severe and other measures are ineffective, chemical agents (highly specialized or systemic insecticides) should be used, relying on prevention. If aphids do appear, there is an environmentally friendly alternative to traditional insecticides.
Any preparation should follow the manufacturer’s instructions and safety precautions.
Indicator plants that help to detect aphids as soon as possible, and thus begin timely control of aphids before they can cause much damage, are spice herbs. Regular inspections of tarragon, mint, rosemary, lemon balm, and chamomile can detect the first wave of aphids. Aphids are particularly fond of eating artemisia, which is always the first to infest a plot.
Leafy greens such as rutabaga, mustard, and kale are also the first to attract aphids. By keeping track of the insects on these indicator plants, you will be able to keep them under control for a good amount of time and do a minimal preventative treatment to stop the spread of aphids in the area.
Ornamental garden shrubs are no exception to the rule and are susceptible to aphid infestation. If aphids are already present in an area, or worse, if they spread, they are sure to “jump” to beans, roses, dahlias, ornamental St. John’s wort, and beautiful summer plants in bloom.