Aphids live on the plants in your garden, particularly leaves and stems. They are able to travel from one plant to another throughout your garden and they need to escape predators. So, how do they do that? Perhaps they can fly, or maybe, aphids can jump?
No, aphids do not jump. All species of aphid will crawl, some are able to perform small hops and there are even some species that are able to fly.
Can Aphids Jump?
If we’re looking at if aphids jump to move around plants, we need to look at if they are physically able to jump in the first place. Aphids can crawl to move around different areas of plants. Certain species are also able to do a small kind of hop.
However, aphids do not jump, and they do not use this method of travel to move from one plant to another.
No, aphids cannot jump from one plant to another. Instead, they will crawl up and down the stems of each plant to get to the leaves
Like other aphids, root aphids cannot jump and are unlikely to be able to fly either. Instead, they will crawl from plant to plant.
No, like other types of aphids, woolly aphids do not jump. They can hop very briefly but this is not at distance and will not be how they travel.
Can Aphids Fly?
Aphids do not jump from one plant to another, so they must be able to move around the garden in some way. That is because certain aphids can fly.
As aphids are insects, they have distinct stages in their life cycles. Throughout most of their life stages, and therefore lives, they cannot fly. However, certain species can develop wings for a small part of their life cycle.
The most common species of aphids that can fly are greenfly. Individuals will fly to different plants to get more food resources and to find a new habitat for the next generations.
The surrounding environment is a big factor that can determine whether or not aphids develop wings. If there is a large colony of aphids on a singular plant, then females will adapt and produce offspring which can sprout wings.
After the offspring has hatched, the new aphids will fly away to different plants in the garden so that they can colonise the area for new aphids.
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How do Aphids Escape Predators?
If aphids cannot jump away from predators and not all individuals can fly, then what method do they use to protect themselves?
It is actually quite a simple method. Aphids can cling to plant surfaces, but, if faced with a predator they are able to let themselves drop to the ground, and it gives them time to crawl away. They may find a place to hide or a new plant to inhabit.
Of course, if they have wings, they may simply fly away or just crawl away on the plant. But they cannot jump out of the way of oncoming predators.
What are the Jumping Insects on my Plants?
There are some species of insects that can jump and some of them look very similar to aphids. Since we’ve discovered that aphids are not able to jump, let’s have a look at the possible insects that you may be seeing on your plants.
Springtails are not actually insects, they are arthropods. But you can see these arthropods on your plants, and they are only as big as the smallest aphid.
Springtails can jump or propel themselves using their springy rear limbs, hence their name. The species of springtail that looks most close to an aphid species is a creamy white colour and they are usually mistaken for cotton aphids.
You will not be able to remove these pests using pesticides, but they will eat your plants so you should get rid of them. The best way to do this is by removing them by hand and putting them onto dry soil so that they cannot survive.
Whiteflies feed on the underside of plant leaves and, as you may expect, they are identifiable by their white wings.
This species is closely related to aphids and they are very similar in size. But, surprisingly, they do not fly. However, they can jump so they may be the insects you have been mistaking for aphids.
Whiteflies can be controlled in the same way as aphids and removed by the same methods. The types of whiteflies you are most likely to be seeing are Greenhouse whiteflies.
Both whiteflies and springtails are garden pests, so they should be controlled to make sure that your plants do not suffer damage.
Like aphids, both of these species eat plant sap, but they also eat the leaves and can cause problems quicker than aphids.
To summarise, aphids are unable to jump.
Some aphids will breed young with wings so that they can fly to different plants to colonise them for future aphids. In order to escape predators, aphids can drop to the ground and crawl away.
If you have tiny jumping insects on your plants, these are not aphids. They are most likely springtails or whiteflies. These are both pests and should be removed from your plants as quickly as possible.
Ryan is a keen gardener from the UK who’s spent years dealing with countless, common pests over the years so knows the ins and outs of how to deal with pests in the garden