If you are an avid gardener, you know what a hassle it can be dealing with aphids. And in case you have not experienced aphids, these are small, soft-bodied insects that can cause a lot of damage to your plants. Therefore, it becomes an obligation for gardeners to get rid of aphids. While there are many ways to tackle your aphid problem, the most common is introducing natural predators.
Aphids are eaten by a range of insects including ladybugs, lacewings, and parasitic wasps.
As aphids are soft, small, and vulnerable, they fall prey to many insects. Sometimes, the best way to control the aphids in your garden is to introduce insects which are their natural predators. By getting to know which predators feed on aphids, you can use them to your advantage by creating a welcoming environment in your garden.
What is a Natural Predator of Aphids?
The natural predators of aphids include other insects. Aphids cannot really defend themselves, which is why they become vulnerable to attacks from other insects. These soft-bodied pests have many natural predators, some of them being ladybugs, lacewings, beetles, and parasitic wasps. The more natural predators you have in your garden, the better you can control the aphid population.
Do Wasps Eat Aphids?
While wasps do fall under the category of being an aphid’s predator, they do not feed on them. Instead, parasitic wasps lay eggs inside the aphids. When the aphids die, their body becomes hard and turn bronze, kind of like mummies. Soon, the eggs laid by wasps hatch inside the aphids, causing adult wasps to come out of the aphid’s bodies.
Hence, wasps do not feed on aphids but take them over. This is where the parasitic in their name comes from. The cycle continues once the adult aphids come out as they search for other aphids to lay their eggs inside.
Do Spiders Eat Aphids?
Another common predator of aphids includes spiders. Spiders tend to make their web in different places, and it is easy for aphids to get caught in those webs. Therefore, the majority of a spider’s diet can comprise of aphids.
However, a spider will not actively hunt for aphids. If the spider has a web laid out near an aphid infestation, it will feed on the ones that become trapped in it.
Do Caterpillars Eat Aphids?
Caterpillars generally feed on leaves. However, bigger species of caterpillars will feed on aphids as they continue to consume the leaves. Caterpillars will not eat aphids actively. Since aphids are quite small, the caterpillars may not notice them as they munch on leaves.
What Other Insects Feed on Aphids?
Aphids have quite a few predators. There are many insects that feed on aphids as they are so easy to hunt. Here are some predators of aphids, which you can introduce to your gardens too. You can actually buy some of the natural predators at shops to help you counter your aphid problem.
Perhaps the most common predator of aphids is the ladybug. Ladybugs will actively look for aphids and consume them. Hence, this is what makes the ladybug one of the best ways to control the population.
Ladybugs like to feed on aphids as they produce a sweet nectar that attracts them. These bugs are helpful as they lay eggs on the aphid nest. When the eggs of the ladybug hatch, the larva which comes out directly feed on the aphids.
If you are willing to tackle your aphid infestation with ladybugs, it is best to release them on your plant in an enclosed area so they do not fly away. Moreover, releasing ladybugs on your infested plant once is not enough. You may have to continue the process multiple times before you truly get rid of aphids.
Apart from ladybugs, you may have also heard of lacewings that can be used against aphids. Lacewings can be brown or green in color.
With lacewings, you have the option of purchasing them in adult form or larva form. If you cannot find any ladybugs, your next best alternative is to go for lacewings. However, getting lacewings in larva form is much better as they will last longer.
Soldier beetles are also called leather wings and are effective against aphids. These beetles have a mustard color and come with long bodies.
The downside to using soldier beetles is that you cannot easily find them. If you do get your hands on soldier beetles, you must get the adult rather than the larva. The larva of soldier beetles is not effective against aphids.
Many people are unaware of damsel bugs because they are rare. However, these bugs can be used to control the aphid population in your garden but are not commercially available.
Do Ants Eat Aphids?
Ants are attracted to aphids because of the sweet nectar they produce. However, ants are attracted to aphids because of entirely different reasons.
While it seems unlikely, but ants do not consume aphids. Rather, ants will nourish the aphids and keep them safe. Usually, ants will also get into fights with predators like ladybugs to keep aphids alive. Ants like to keep aphids because they eat the sweet nectar they produce. Hence, aphids and ants do not have a predator-prey relationship, rather a symbiotic one.
Aphids are small, soft-bodied insects found in gardens, and one of the best ways to deal with an infestation is to introduce natural predators. Unfortunately, however, there are many insects that feed on aphids. Some of them include ladybugs, lacewings, and parasitic wasps.
However, contrary to popular belief, parasitic wasps do not feed on aphids. The wasps, however, lay eggs inside the aphids, and when they hatch, an adult wasp emerges from inside, killing the aphid in the process. Also, while ants are attracted to aphids, they do not consume them. On the other hand, the ant will nurture and take care of aphis to use them for the sweet nectar.
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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