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Pest: Root Aphids

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Pest: Root Aphids

 

(Order Homoptera, Family Aphididae, Genus Pemphigus)

 

 

 

Root+Aphids.jpg

 

 

 

Special Species Notes

 

"Root Aphid" is a very broad term that describes an unknown number of species of aphids that can attack crop roots. They are from the Aphididae family and are commonly referred to as root aphids. Aphids, adelgids, and phylloxerids are very closely related, and are all within the suborder Sternorrhyncha, the plant-sucking bugs. They are either placed in the insect superfamily Aphidoidea or into the superfamily Phylloxeroidea which contains the family Adelgidae and the family Phylloxeroidea.

 

A common misunderstanding is the referencing of Root Aphids to phylloxera, which is another family of insects that are very similar to aphids but lacks the telltale "tailpipes" and "honeydew" discharge that distinguishes aphids. Phylloxerids are to believed to have originated in France, where the root aphids were commonly referred to as "The Plague" thanks to their ability to take hold of the wine grape crops. Where almost ⅔ of all the grape vines were destroyed because they could not find a way to kill the root aphids. The pests resist eradication until the entire crop and area can no longer produce fruit.

 

They can harm cannabis in a major way. Even if all of the root aphids on the existing crop are killed, it is possible for their eggs to survive in the environment to infest your next grow. Consider the costs of treating versus culling very carefully. Hopefully you never have to deal with root aphids. Attacks from root aphids can leave plants vulnerable to root rot, powdery mildew, fungus gnats, and disease.

 

They inhabit the root zone of plants while feeding on plants' roots and occasionally move above ground onto plant surfaces. They can multiply quickly, unseen and hard to spot, sap enough vigor from your plants to kill them. When root aphids are crawling on your plants, it is because there are so many living in your growing medium that they have no other place to go.

 

Once established in soil or hydroponic systems, root aphids are difficult to completely remove. When plants are telling us something is wrong, it commonly mistaken for nutrient deficiencies. If a pest is spotted, they are commonly mistaken for mealybugs, aphids, or fungus gnats.

 

Early detection and control is highly recommended for root aphid.

 

In outdoor gardens, root aphids may be accompanied by ants.

 

 

Common Species:

 

There are several species of root aphids, and unfortunately, when they are feeding in the soil in the spring and summer, there are few, if any, winged adults around. Winged adults are necessary for species identification, and are produced in the fall, or made to find another host plant.

 

Sugarbeet root aphid (Pemphigus populivenae)

 

Hop aphid (Phorodon humuli)

 

corn and lettuce (Pemphigus genera)

 

Host plants:

 

 

In addition to greenhouse and garden perennials, various types of root aphids attack rice crops, the roots of a variety of trees including fir, walnut, and hickory. Root aphids can also cause problems for perennial herbs, including those grown in pots. Some examples are Aster, Braille, boltonia, calendula, gallardia, primrose, cannabis, sweet pea, sugar-beet, cooton, dandeilion, corn, strawberries. oregano and basil, hosta

 

 

LETTUCE_ROOT_APHID.jpg

 

 

Identification

 

Root aphid can be very difficult to find at all and are easy misidentified.

 

The eggs are very small, white, and laid in clusters that to the naked eye can easily mistake as beneficial soil fungus.

 

Juveniles are just smaller then the adults under 0.5 millimeters in size, brownish in color, with wide round abdomens and six legs.

 

Root aphid have an oval shape with 6-8 legs with antennas. They may appear as tiny aphid-like insects, but they are feeding on plant roots. About 1 mm long, They’re about the same size or slightly smaller than stem-and-leaf aphids with shorter legs and antennae.

 

Root aphid are hard to spot. Often they are colored to blend with roots and soil. Their coloration varies depending on what they are feeding on, other environmental conditions and their maturity. Their colors can range from yellow, red, milky yellow, green, brownish-orange, gray, pink, black, but generally appear white and brown.

 

 

Root Aphids (Crawlers) below

 

Root-Aphid-on-Roots-Small.jpg

 

If you are having a difficult time distinguishing whether or not the bug you’re spotting is a Root Aphid, then look for a white, waxy material on your plant’s roots that the aphids secret; It's a chalkier type of the honeydew. They’re commonly confused with the larger mealy bugs, because of this white substance they spread. Their bodies are more pear-shaped than oval as mealybugs. The easiest way to tell them apart is by the many small spines mealybugs have sticking out from the perimeter of their bodies instead of legs. Once mealybugs mature and find a place to feed, they exude a waxy substance that makes them much easier to spot.

 

Mealybug_Outdoors2182.jpg

Mealy bugs

 

Adult root aphids are often confused with fungus gnats because some adults will grow wings once a population has reached critical mass. They can be spotted attached to the sides of the grow container when growers look. They inhabit similar environments and take off when agitated. A telltale sign that you have root aphids is the chalky honeydew root aphids secrete that builds up on top of and throughout the potting media. Their thorax (part between the head and abdomen) elongates a bit but otherwise the winged root aphis or “fliers” look just like a crawler (wingless root aphid), but with wings 2-3x the body length. The fliers are particularly dangerous because they can easily spread crawlers to other plants.

 

 

winged-root-aphid-300x203.jpg

Winged Root Aphid (Flier)

 

 

Fungus gnats have thin abdomens, long legs, and wings about the length of their body, like a small mosquito. Aphids are more squat, round, and stubby-legged. In addition, they have distinguishable “tail pipes” extending off their back-end. A microscope can be very helpful since both pests are so tiny. Fungus gnats also behave differently, they seem to fly slowly and aimlessly. Winged root aphids fly higher and farther, seem more alert overall and are better at avoiding being squished. While fungus gnats will fly all over the place, root aphids will fly straight towards your lights. If you are in veg, check above the bulbs for root aphid bodies.

 

 

aiy5imZtQEOAP4JKaYBw_fungus-gnat.jpg

Fungus Gnat

 

First signs:

 

Root aphids seem to thrive most effectively in rock wool, followed by coco and hydroton. Soil and soiless mixes generally offer a slightly less hospitable environment for larvae.

 

Root Aphids are especially easy to spot in hydroponics. Their dark bodies contrast with white roots as they latch on and colonize. Unfortunately, they also spread more quickly too. If you use rockwool, look at the roots that stick out of the cube, and also pull back the plastic wrapper to check the sides. Checking your reservoir and runoff for aphid bodies can help you gauge how effective your treatments have been. Save yourself time and money. Don’t bother transplanting plants that have active and visible root aphids infestation. The plant may survive for a long time, but it will likely remain stunted and never successfully root into larger cubes.

 

 

Root+Aphids+Rockwool2.jpg

 

 

 

In soil, soil-less or coco, they are easiest to see when you are watering. Unfortunately they will not drown, but watering does agitate them and you can usually see them crawling up the main stem or sides of the pot from the soil line. If you see crawlers but no fliers, you’ve caught the problem early. Transplanting while fighting aphids is generally more successful in soil or coco than in rockwool, but it is still best if you can knock them out first.

 

Visible symptoms: yellowing, withered, droopy, or crawling of leaves and reduced plant vigor. Often mistaken for nutrient deficiencies or a pH issue - even though all the levels and nutrition are on-point, will often lead growers to consider adding certain minerals, usually magnesium, to their nutrient mixture, often with no result. The yellowing (chlorosis) resembles a magnesium deficiency, and the yellow-brown spotting a calcium deficiency. If you have checked pH (feed and runoff), and know that your plants are being properly fed, you should probably check for root aphids.

 

Root aphids puncture a plant's roots and suck the nutrients directly from roots before plants can use them, so their damage isn’t obvious at first. Open wounds are left that the plant cannot repair due to an enzyme the aphids leave behind. The roots become unable to absorb adequate nutrients like of magnesium and iron. If you look at the roots, you will notice the roots turn yellow, swell, and then harden as the root aphids feed on them, leading to secondary fungal infections and dead spots. Eventually, plants will become stunted and yields will be greatly diminished. Plant growth will be inhibited and they will not reach their mature size.

 

 

RootAphidColonies.jpg

 

 

If you have spotted flies around your plants which appear to be fungus gnats, ruled out pH problems quickly and carefully inspect any plant with signs of phantom nutrient deficiency, but doesn't respond to treatment, or observed above-ground crawlers, you must consider a root aphid infestation. Getting down into your roots and scoping them is both an excellent first step as well as a wise task and part of regular upkeep.

 

Growers with very healthy plants and maintain a very clean environments may inexplicably experience a mysterious deficiency of some sort around day 21 to 30 of flower. The result can be an ongoing harvest of high quality flowers at a reduced yield of 15 to 20 percent.

 

For outdoor cannabis plants that are under attack by Root Aphids is if you notice a lot of ants around that area.

 

Life cycle

 

 

Aphid-Life-Cycle-Small.jpg

 

 

Aphids have two methods of reproduction, sexual and

asexual.

 

Root aphids will respond to their environment in one of three ways:

 

1) They can hatch a generation of root aphids that are capable of developing wings and taking flight to another plant.

 

2)  They can also hatch as a larger crawler that can move from the deep root ball up the plant onto the leaves and stems. There it can dine on other parts of the plants as well as lay eggs to hatch larvae with upper plant mass support them.

 

 3) They can lay a winter egg. The winter egg can lay dormant for up to six months before hatching and generating a new infestation.

 

 

During the pervious fall, the female laid eggs that are attached to leaves and stems above the root line, or in the soil.  Root Aphid starts the seasonal cycle on leaves when the females hatch from overwintering eggs. Young females move to the roots to continue the cycle with several more generations in a season, where they hatch and fall to the ground.

 

The nymphs molt four times before reaching maturity in 8 to 12 days.  The aphid bores into the root, creating scars that leave plants vulnerable to mildew and disease. As infestations increase, “crawlers” will move up the stem to feed.

 

Their primary lifecycle are crawlers. They are wingless and crawl through media looking for roots. Once they find a root, they will latch on and feast on the root ball and multiply until the area cannot support the quickly increasing population. Crawlers don’t lay eggs, instead they breed and give live birth up to 30-35 new aphids every time. Crawlers are very easy to mistake for young mealybugs, since they are about the same size and color. Adult crawlers are capable of sprouting wings to help them travel between plants to mate and lay eggs.

 

Once the aphids are established on a plant host, She gives birth to many winged, individuals which can fly away and colonize other plants and restart the cycle with crawlers. Some of the fliers may carry a crawler with them.

 

In the autumn, a generation of winged aphids are produced which fly back to the trees and these give birth to wingless males and females which mate to produce the over wintering eggs to complete the cycle. Although the females can give birth without a male, it is essential that they find a male before winter because this is how their species survives throughout the cold season. When a female aphid mates with a male, they create eggs that are winterized. The term winterized means that they can survive and withstand the cold and can lay dormant for up to six months in the spring, and generating a new infestation, restarting the life cycle. During the winter time, the female Root Aphids lay their eggs in the soil.

 

Ants are known to carry aphids from exhausted plants to un-colonized ones.

 

How it spreads:

 

infected commercial soil, unsterilized used soil, or infected soil-less medium

 

infected clones

 

Ants: Ants and Aphids have a “I scratch your back, you scratch mine” kind of deal. Ants will escort Aphids between plants, protecting them from predators. In return, the Aphids secrete a sugary substance that the ants like to feed on

 

Over watering also makes roots more susceptible to pest in disease in general. Aphids and their eggs can be spread between plants via their water runoff. This makes recirculating hydroponic systems especially vulnerable.

 

winged root aphids may carry a crawler with them to another host plant.

 

What to do For preventative use IPM management

 

Practice good sanitation. A clean grow environment helps prevent most pests, and is imperative to preventing a comeback once you have gotten an infestation under control. Keep your grow clean and tidy, wash and sterilize all tools and containers, wash your hands before handling plants, and remove all plant debris immediately. A full cleaning and sterilization of your room and equipment between grows is unavoidable if you want pests to remain gone.

 

For indoors, make sure your grow room is completely sealed. Use caulk or spray foam to fill any gaps or cracks, seal doors and windows with weather stripping, and place a filter over any air inlet.

 

Keep your equipment sterile. Always use new growing media that are either completely inert or have been pasteurized. Clean your tool before and after you use them. Don't grab a tool that are outdoors.

 

Don't let your clothes cross-contaminate your plants. If you have been outdoors, change your clothing before entering the grow room to prevent potential “hitchhikers” from gaining access. If you were doing yard work (mowing lawn, pulling weeds, trimming trees, etc) take a shower too. And don't forget to change your shoes.

 

Prevent your pets from accessing your grow area. Never allow pets to enter your garden as they can carry all manner of bugs and pathogens.

 

Daily monitoring of the plant including the growing media.  Use microscope with at least 50x magnification.

 

Like spider mites, the easiest way for aphids to spread is by hitching a ride on a cutting or seedling into a new environment. The person selling clones or seedlings likely doesn’t even know they are there. A quarantine procedure for new plants can help. If you do spot root aphids during the quarantine phase the plants should be culled immediately. Some clones quarantined (for weeks), treated multiple times with systemic insecticides until there is no evidence of surviving aphids, and they still came back later in the grow.

Quarantine: http://freemygreenpdx.com/topic/14249-quarantine-what-is-it-and-why-do-i-need-to/

How to sterilizes your soil is post 5 of the Quarantine thread

 

yellow sticky traps The aphids are attracted to the color yellow and tend to fly or crawl onto theses traps more than other similar insect traps. The use of traps to monitor and capture pest insects in their adult stage, the link to that thread   http://freemygreenpdx.com/topic/14331-monitoring-for-pests-skicky-traps/

 

Eradication requires highly specialized, labor-intensive treatment regimes. In later, more-advanced stages, it can be almost impossible to completely remove.   In some cases, growers have them for many rounds without knowing it

 

watering your plants thoroughly with warm water. It has been said that warm water will kill all stages of insect life that lives in your soil. The recommended temperature of the water should be between 110-125 degrees Fahrenheit. This is the warmest you can get without totally damaging your plants.

 

Sand, diatomaceous earth and other sharp soil amendments help limit the life cycle of these pests and control the population. However, it may not eradicate them completely as emerging from the soil is not a necessity for the aphids to survive. If you use DE, remember to reapply after watering.

 

Hydrogen Peroxide is for killing aphid larvae. Dry out the soil for a couple of days, then mix 1 part hydrogen peroxide to 4 parts water and soak your infected cannabis plants. When the growing medium starts to foam, it means the larvae a now being killed. It will kill your beneficial bugs. 

 

Organic remedies may be completely ineffective if the infestation has reached higher levels of development or if the pest isn't properly identified.

 

 

Azamax / Azatrol / Neem / Azadirachtin

Neem Oil (Simply mix two tablespoons per gallon of water and soak the roots of your plants.) and Azamax (which is a concentrated Neem Oil) is made for foliar use. They are designed to be sprayed onto the plant itself and doesn't affect the insects.

Plants treated with a neem foliar spray and root drench will be more resistant to (and may actually repel) pests and disease. That makes neem oil our go to preventative. If you are fighting an active infestation, try switching to an Azadirachtin concentrate like Azamax or Azatrol for a more powerful anti-feedant effect.

 

Insecticidal Soaps / Oils

Essential oils like rosemary, capsaicin from pepper plants, and Insecticidal soaps like Garden Safe or Safer 3-in-1 are most effective as a foliar and “spot spray” to kill fliers. However, you can also try an essential oil and capsaicin root drench for an extra punch, just try it on a test plant first. As always, be careful with any kind of foliar spray during the bloom phase when plants are more susceptible to rot and mildew. A recent study found submerging the root ball in insecticidal soap for 30 seconds resulted in less than 30% mortality, submersion for 60 seconds yielded close to 70% mortality and submersion for 90 to 120 seconds yielded 95% mortality.

 

 

 

Biological control

Predatory nematodes work well in either soil or hydroponic systems the used rock wool or coco coir. They attack aphids in the root zone. However, once established root aphids can simply out-breed nematodes. These are best used as a preventative or in conjunction with other methods.

 

Predatory soil mite Stratiolaelaps controls root aphids and weevils, but only first and second instar larvae. Stratiolaelaps. One application of Atheta per crop cycle is usually sufficient if started early in the season. http://freemygreenpdx.com/topic/14451-beneficial-fungus-gnat-predators/

 

Rove beetles feed on root aphids and work well to combat the pest when used along with predatory soil mite.

 

Ladybugs and lacewings will eat any above ground, but are mostly ineffective.

 

Botanigard or Mycotrol is a mycoinsecticide, or insect killing fungus. It's an insecticide composed of the living fungus Beauveria bassiana, which infects and kills the aphid, thrips, whitefly, and then releases spores to infect the next victim.  It can be inoculated in the root zone and kills all stages of crawlers. It kills fliers, but they are less likely to come in contact. Aphids are unable to build up an immunity to the mycelium, and it’s perfectly safe to use up to the day of harvest. So while it isn’t cheap, and won’t kill them all in one shot, Botanigard is definitely worth the cost. It is an effective root dunk. In studies controlled over 95% of root aphids.

 

OG Biowar Foliar Pack is 100 % percent safe made with beneficial microbes and no chemicals when mixed with water it can be used in soil or coco coir. OG Biowar packs contain beneficial microbes in a pure talc carrier. This means they can be brewed into a activated compost tea and applied as a foliar spray or root drench. The foliar pack is specifically tailored to help plants fight off pests and resist stress, and even includes insecticidal microbe species that work similarly to Botanigard. This product is highly recommended both as a treatment and preventative.

 

Mosquito dunks: are made from naturally occurring soil bacteria called Bacillus thuringiensis strain israelensis (Bti). You may be familiar with Bt products as a common form of pest control for agricultural and garden pests, such as caterpillars (Btk), Beetles (Btt), mosquito and black flies (Bti). Since Bti occurs naturally in the environment, it is considered an all-natural biological control product. Dunks and bits are produced by harvesting Bti from soil, then inactivating the bacteria with enzymes. When a Dunk is put into water it releases larvicide and provides a biological mosquito control, as these Mosquito Dunks are safe both for the environment and animals as well as humans, but are deadly to mosquitoes. it is systematic and should not to use it in bloom as it is only supposed to last 60 days.

 

Bug buster –O by Fox Farm (not available in CA) is a mild concentration so it is recommended for preventative to light infestations. Most poeple recommend using 2 oz per gallon of water for drench or hand water over your pots or rockwool.   It is recommended to top feed with it, even if you drip or flood and drain, or re-circulate any hydroponic system, you will be guaranteed better coverage.  Then flood table for about 1 hour.  (Use the 2 oz. per gallon and fill up reservoir).  Do once every 4 days until they are gone.  It should take only two treatments.  

 

Insecticides

 

Root Aphids are incredibly hardy. Very few pesticides are capable of a “total kill” in one application. They can simply out-breed typical control methods, and quickly build up a resistance to poisons. Many of their natural predators, like nematodes and ladybugs, are also wiped out with pesticide use. Gardens already chemically treated for other problems may be especially vulnerable to root aphids. That is not to say that organic methods are the only choice, just that you should be careful and aware before you start applying any type of poison or insecticide.Young and/or heavily infested plants should be culled since replacing them will be less costly in the long run.

 

Merit which contains imidacloprid. "Imid" is the active ingredient used in popular dog and cat flea and tick remedies such as Advantage. Like any systemic treatment it enters the plant and alters the chemistry so that when the pest feeds on the plant, it also ingests the pesticide which kills the pest. Imid stays in the plant for at least 60 days and I would not recommend administering in flower, ever.

 

Gamma-cyhalothrin is a touch and kill pesticide that stays active for 21 days on the plant. It kills the insect any time it comes in contact with it or when the insect comes in contact with surfaces that have been treated in the past 14 days.

 

Contact killers like Pyrethrins do kill root aphids. An aerosol or fogger can make short work of fliers. However, they aren’t as effective against the aphids in the root zone since they reproduce so quickly, and can invade all parts of the growing environment. Even synthetic pyrethrins which remain in the environment longer may not achieve a total kill before aphids develop resistance.

 

There are a variety of other chemical insecticides which will kill aphids on contact. Bonide Eight, Ortho Bug B Gone and Seven Concentrate Bug Killer are all good options to use in concert with another, preferably systemic insecticide.

 

The most effective systemic pesticide is nicotine based Imidacloprid. It kills aphids and other insects by overwhelming their immune system as they feed on the plant. This means it doesn’t need to come in direct contact with aphids and can achieve a total kill with proper application. Note: Imidacloprid is highly toxic to Bees (and most other beneficial insects), so it is not suitable for use in organic, outdoor or greenhouse grows. Great care must be taken even with indoor application. However, it has not been found to be carcinogenic so it can be a safe option if the manufacturers instructions are followed carefully.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The link below will take you to "An Intro to beneficial bugs and beneficial insect food" it has a list (been worked on) to pests and beneficial insects

 

  http://freemygreenpdx.com/topic/14334-an-intro-to-beneficial-bugs-their-food-and-the-pest-they-take-care-of/

 

 

 

 

 

 


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How about an H2O2 drench?

 

Methinks it might knock 'em dead... Hmmmmmm

 

muA

 

 

Hydrogen Peroxide (H2O2 ) is for killing aphid larvae. Dry out the soil for a couple of days, then mix 1 part hydrogen peroxide to 4 parts water and soak your infected cannabis plants. When the growing medium starts to foam, it means the larvae a now being killed. It will kill your beneficial bugs. (from post 1)

 

From what I have gathered, H2O2 is ineffectual. Some people claim its works, but most say the opposite. I've never seen them in my garden, but have seen them in other gardens (mostly hydro). I use beneficial nematodes, mycorrhizae and bacteria inoculant and H2O2 would kill them along with other beneficial microbes in soil, so needless to say I don't use Hydrogen Peroxide. The downside of H2O2 is that this also kills everything else in my soil, so any beneficial bacteria will need to be restored.


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Funny thought: the grape problem was eventually "solved" in France by replacing most vines with European cultivars grafted onto American "foxy" cultivars.  Has anyone tried grafting onto a less susceptible rootstock, or are all cultivars equally susceptible?  I've noticed a difference in how much the HRM love certain plants vs. others.  For instance, one hears about grafting a regular hops scion onto a weed rootstalk...what about the other way around?

 

Heard a horror story recently about a friend in a soil-based commercial situation up in PDX who recently spent $18,000 on beneficials trying to get rid of RA once they were flying...the whole operation ended up moving and starting over from seed.  He seemed to think that once they were flying, it was all over, but don't don't know if imidacloprid was ever used.  Seems to me these might be the worst pest ever, just edging out bulb mites.  May no one find these anywhere, ever.


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Funny thought: the grape problem was eventually "solved" in France by replacing most vines with European cultivars grafted onto American "foxy" cultivars.  Has anyone tried grafting onto a less susceptible rootstock, or are all cultivars equally susceptible?  I've noticed a difference in how much the HRM love certain plants vs. others.  For instance, one hears about grafting a regular hops scion onto a weed rootstalk...what about the other way around?

 

Heard a horror story recently about a friend in a soil-based commercial situation up in PDX who recently spent $18,000 on beneficials trying to get rid of RA once they were flying...the whole operation ended up moving and starting over from seed.  He seemed to think that once they were flying, it was all over, but don't don't know if imidacloprid was ever used.  Seems to me these might be the worst pest ever, just edging out bulb mites.  May no one find these anywhere, ever.

 

 

From my researching, it seems once you have fliers, It's almost impossible to completely remove RA. If you are lucky enough to kill all the crawlers and fliers then you have to wonder/worry about the eggs that are dominate to restart the cycle.


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Quick and easy control of root aphids can be achieved by simply putting 1.5" of coarse playground sand on top of your soil and water from the bottom.

 

This will break the reproduction cycle by preventing the flyers from getting out of the soil to lay eggs.


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