Aphids can cause a lot of damage to a lot of plants because of their dietary habits. But are there dietary preferences for these pests?
The Quick Answer
What Plants Do Aphids Eat?
Aphids do not eat plants, in reality. What they do consume is the sap produced by plants. Aphids suck this sap from the leaves and stems of plants. Aphids are commonly found on roses and sunflowers but they don’t actually eat the plant.
Do Aphids Eat Plants?
First of all, we should clear up the issue of what aphids actually eat. Aphids do not consume plants, but they do consume plant matter. They will not eat the leaves and petals of these flowers.
An aphid’s diet actually consists of plant sap. They can get this substance from the leaves, roots and stems of a plant and they will suck the sap out of the plant. Even though sap is their only source of food, certain species of aphids have evolved to have preferences for particular species of plants.
What are Aphids Favourite Plants?
The preferred plants often depend on the specific species of aphid. But with over 4,000 species of aphids around the world, it is impossible to list the favourites of every single one.
Below are some of the most popular plants for a variety of different aphid species. Though it is important to note that aphids will inhabit any plant they remotely like.
Most commonly fed on by the Rose Aphid, rose bushes are often the victims of large amounts of aphids. This is because of both their bright petals and their attractive smell. They are one of the most troubled plants in the UK because of aphids.
Yellow seems to be the most preferred colour of an aphid, making these large flowers very attractive to many aphid species. But, because of their hardiness, sunflowers can withstand aphids.
This is why they are often used as what is called a ‘trap plant’ these plants will bring the aphids away from more delicate plants to keep the rest of your garden safe.
Most aphid species will only inhabit one plant, but these two appear to be popular choices for a variety of different aphid species.
Aphids do like tomato plants. But the truth is, they’re not particularly fussy. As there are thousands of species of aphids, there’s bound to be a species that likes just about each and every plant in your garden. FOr example, when it comes to tomato plants, you’re most likely to find potato aphida or green peach aphids.
Keeping on top of the weeds in your garden is a very good idea if you want to deter aphids. Aphids aren’t particularly fussy when it comes to sucking sap from plants and they won’t turn their noses up at weeds. That’s why it’s a very good idea to remove weeds regularly from your flower beds.
Weeds are actually a way for aphids to get a foothold in your garden without you really noticing. After all, you’re unlikely to care about or look for an aphid infestation killing your weeds.
Are There Plants Aphids Dislike?
Despite the overwhelming number of plants that aphids like, there are some species that they do dislike and will avoid. These plant deterrents are often used by gardeners to try and drive aphids away. Some of the most popular choices are listed below.
Garlic is very strong smelling and aphids greatly dislike this smell. Garlic has been highly praised by gardeners for its effectiveness against aphids, particularly for if they have been planted around and under rose bushes.
Much like garlic, marigolds have a strong and distinct odour which is seemingly despised by aphids. However, you are able to get unscented strands of this plant which will not be effective at deterring aphids. Because of their bright yellow colours, however, they can be used as trap plants.
There are other plants that aphids dislike, including other strongly scented herbs and flowers like dill and petunias. But what one species of aphid will dislike, another will love so, be careful when choosing.
Will Aphids Eat Fruit Plants?
Aphids can often be found on fruit and vegetable plants, with many aphid species being named after the ones they inhabit. These include the Green Peach Aphid, the Cabbage Aphid and the Potato Aphid. However, they will not eat the fruit that is growing on these plants. That being said, the aphids can damage the crop.
How Do Aphids Damage Plants?
As we now know, aphids eat the plant sap from the leaves and stems of plants. After consuming large amounts of the sugary sap, they then excrete a sticky, sugary substance called honeydew. The honeydew sticks to the plant leaves and can cause mould to form on the leaves.
This mould reduces the surface area of the leaves and therefore reduces the amount of photosynthesis the plant can perform. Because of this, the plant may wilt, have stunted growth or produce yellowing leaves.
Gathering all the information here, we have learnt that aphids do not eat plants, but they eat the sap plants produce. This consumption as well as their excretion of honeydew can cause problems for your plants.
Many species of aphids will only inhabit one plant, but there are plants loved by many aphids including roses and sunflowers. There are plants that aphids also dislike and they will deter them, these include garlic and marigolds.
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