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List of garden pests : Greenflies

Curled apple leaves caused by greenflies

Curled apple leaves caused by greenflies

A major pest of plants, both indoor and outdoor, greenflies can be black, brownish, reddish or blue as well as green. There is a specific type of greenflies for nearly every kind of plant, and some species have a wider range of hosts. Weakening plants by sucking out the sap, greenflies are also the main distributors of virus diseases. Unsightly, black sooty moulds often grow on the honeydew excreted by greenflies, and wasps may come to feed outdoors.

There is a limited number of plants that are frequently badly affected and need to be sprayed for greenflies. These are mostly fruit and vegetable crops and include strawberries, raspberries, apples, plums, weeping birch, japanese maple, blackcurrants, gooseberries, lettuce, beans, cabbage, brussels sprouts, roses, honeysuckle, any greenhouse or indoor plant, and herbs.

A kind of greenflies – woolly aphids – produces woolly masses on the branches of apples and pyracantha and severely weakens the plant, causing it to lose leaves and grow poorly. Control is usually necessary.

Greenflies have many natural enemies, both predators and parasites, and very often these can be left to control the greenfly population. Leaves and shoots often curl up when infested, the greenflies usually feeding within the protection provided. Even on the commonly affected plants, the natural control systems need to be supplemented only when populations look like building up early in the summer.

Controlling the first attack is usually enough to return to balance. The best product to use is Rapid, because it kills only greenflies and not the natural predators. Other products that can be used are non-persistent chemicals like Derris and Malalthion.

Systemic insecticides, which enter the plant sap, are used where the leaves are rolled up and the greenflies are safely hidden.

Soap solutions are quite effective against greenflies, and not harmful to predators. Hosing greenflies off with a jet of water can be tried too. Winter wash, with tar-oil, is effective against greenfly eggs on fruit trees, but is harmful to predators.


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