Aphids are indeed one of the most common garden pests you may encounter while hydroponically gardening. They can take control once established in either soil or hydroponic systems. The attacks from root aphids can make the plants vulnerable to root rot, powdery mildew, fungus gnat infestations, and even disease. These are probably the worst pest out there, just beating the bulb mites. The good news is that you can eliminate sap-sucking aphids from your outdoor crops with a bit of work and early action.
Here’s how to identify and eliminate them from your indoor garden!
Aphids: What Are They?
Root aphids are tiny hydroponic pests from the family Phylloxera, with adults measuring 1/8th of an inch. These species of aphids come in many colors, such as green, white, yellow, red, brown, and black. Winged aphids, formerly adult crawlers, produce wingless males and females that produce overwintering eggs that complete the crop cycle and fly back to the trees in the autumn. To the naked eye, the eggs look like beneficial soil fungus. They are white and appear in clusters.
Typically, aphids infestations are found in colonies on the plant roots, stem, on the underside of leaves and at the sides of grow cups. Since they like the new growth, they prefer to hang out on the branches and tops of the infected plants spotted by growers. The aphids become carriers of any plant diseases they have consumed so that they can spread disease from one plant to another.
Root aphids attack a diverse range of plants, including rice crops, fir, walnut, and hickory trees, in addition to greenhouse and garden perennials.
The Effects of Aphids on A Hydroponic Garden
Aphids love to eat the nutrients from your healthy plants. Discoloration, wilting, and curling of leaves can result from their feeding. The plant will look stunted, with new shoots looking deformed, often mistaken for a nutrient deficiency.
You can also suffer damage from root aphids in less indirect ways. They leave behind a sugary residue known as honeydew that attracts other pests, like ants, by opening a wound on a plant. Aphids are protected and cultivated by ants to produce honeydew. Aphids are known to be carried from exhausted plants to uncolonized garden plants by ants.
How to Keep Aphids Off Your Hydroponic Garden
Preventing root aphid growth in your indoor or outdoor plants is vital for their health and nutrition. Since most chemical insecticides only provide moderate effectiveness and may damage the beneficial insects, it is best to use organic methods to keep the root aphid population off. Pesticides are damaging to other plants and insects, depending on the location of the host plant and the surrounding ecosystem. Using chemical pesticides also wipes out their natural predators, such as beneficial nematodes, parasitic wasps and ladybugs, which attack aphid eggs.
By Spraying Soap
A soapy water spray sometimes works best for keeping a small infestation under control in your garden. Mix your batch of insect-killing soap or buy some that are already mixed.
You can rid your hydroponic garden of aphids with neem oil, which is a natural insecticide. You should soak plant roots in two tablespoons of the mixture per gallon of water. As a foliar spray, mix it in a spray bottle with water.
In the event of an active infestation, you may need to step it up a notch with a pesticide like Azamax. In Azamax, a single compound also derived from neem is the active ingredient. Combining it with neem oil makes it even more effective. In addition, it is a water-based foliar spray.
Adding Natural Predators
Adding predators such as ladybugs to your hydroponic garden is probably the best biological control at the first sign of root aphids. Aphids are a favorite food of ladybugs and their larvae, so they would be delighted to eat them. Predatory nematodes can be used either in soil or hydroponic systems using rock wool or coco coir.
Growing using aeroponics or a deep water culture system makes it much easier for the entire root to receive aphid-killing compounds since they have nowhere else to go but the roots. You can also use a capsaicin root drench or an essential oil drench for extra punch.
For those who don’t mind the possibility that treatment might fail or harm other species, here’s how to fight off root aphids with insecticides: Soak your growing medium thoroughly in an industrial-strength insecticide.
How To Rid Of Aphids Out Of Your Indoor Hydroponic Garden
In most cases, aphids, like spider mites, are introduced to indoor plants from your outdoor garden. There is a high likelihood of root aphids and their eggs being carried inside greenhouses by nursery plants, particularly those from a large, commercial grower. Check any plants you add outside for signs of root aphid infestation or any other hydroponic pest insects before adding them. By germinating seeds or cloning plants from within your garden, you can reduce the need for new plants.
With a grow tent, you create a barrier that controls pests like regular aphids that might otherwise attack your hydroponic garden.
Although aphids can destroy your hydroponic garden, a little care can help to save it. As a result of how fast they reproduce, quick action is crucial. Keeping a close eye on your hydroponic garden can help you spot aphids and pest problems before they become too intensive.
What are the differences between aphids and gnats?
The easiest way to tell them apart is body shape. While adult gnats will fly all over the place, root aphid species will fly straight towards your lights.
What are the early signs of aphids?
If you see crawlers but no fliers, you’ve caught the problem early.
What are the best ways to check for aphid bodies?
Checking your feeding water and runoff for aphid larvae can help gauge how effective your treatments have been.
What are the best ways for aphid control?
Transplanting while fighting feeding aphids is generally more successful in soil or coco than in Rockwool, but it’s best if you can knock them out first.
What should I do when removing a plant?
When removing the entire plant, take care to keep the root aphid species and eggs as contained as possible – avoid shaking the plant and dropping any aphids or eggs onto the soil or any healthy plants below.