Aphid Midge Life Cycle: Locating Aphid Midge Larvae And Eggs In Gardens

Aphid Midge Life Cycle: Locating Aphid Midge Larvae And Eggs In Gardens

By: Liz Baessler

A lot of the time having bugs in the garden is something you want to avoid. It’s quite the opposite with aphid midges, though. These helpful little bugs get their name because aphid midge larvae feed on aphids, a dreaded and very common garden pest. In fact, many gardeners buy aphid midge eggs specifically to fight aphid populations. Keep reading to learn more about the aphid midge life cycle and how to identify aphid midge young.

Aphid Predator Midge Identification

Aphid predator midge identification is a little difficult because the bugs usually only come out in the evening. If you do see them, they look somewhat like mosquitoes with long antennae that curl back from their heads. It’s not the adults that eat aphids, however– it’s the larvae.

Aphid midge larvae are small, about 0.118th of an inch (3 mm.) long and orange. The entire aphid midge life cycle is three to four weeks long. The larval stage, when aphid midge larvae kill and eat aphids, lasts for seven to ten days. During that time, a single larva may kill between 3 and 50 aphids per day.

How to Find Aphid Midge Eggs and Larvae

The easiest way to get aphid midge larvae is to buy them. You can get vermiculite or sand with aphid midge cocoons in it. Simply sprinkle the material over the soil around your infected plant.

Keep the soil moist and warm around 70 degrees F. (21 C.) and within a week and a half, fully formed adults should emerge from the soil to lay their eggs on the affected plants. The eggs will hatch into larvae that will kill your aphids.

In order to be effective, aphid midges need a warm environment and at least 16 hours of light per day. With ideal conditions, the aphid midge life cycle should continue with your larvae dropping to the soil to pupate into a new round of egg laying adults.

Release them three times (once a week) in the spring to establish a good population.

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How to control aphids using safe organic methods

As a gardener or consumer, you deserve full profits and safe products of your hard work. However, these two goals face a threat from crop pests like aphids and diseases. One of the most destructive insects is aphids. They can stunt your vegetable and flowers growth leading to huge losses. Spraying them with chemical pesticides may expose users to harmful intoxication.

Though they reproduce fast, you can easily manage them. We outline various methods you can use to monitor, diagnose and identify small populations. As a safe control measure, you can use a range of means like companion planting to prevent their attacks. In the case of huge colonies, the article has a list of natural safe products and solutions you can use. They are fit for organic farmers using integrated pest management (IPM).


Aphid Midge

Quantity must be 1 or more

Aphid Midge will tackle a wide range of aphid species and are particularly useful for controlling aphids in early and late season.

Aphidoletes aphidimyza is a midge with predatory larvae that can control many aphid species. Adults are about 2mm long and lay eggs in colonies of aphids. Eggs hatch in 2-3 days and the orange-red larvae immediately start to search for aphids. Larvae inject a poison into the aphid to paralyse it and dissolve the body contents. The larvae take 7-16 days to mature before pupating in soil or compost and adults emerge after 10-14 days.

All our prices include P&P. Orders placed by 10am Monday will be despatched later in the week. The smaller size packs, 250 cocoons are only available March - September.

Further information

Identifying Aphids

Aphids are a few mm across, so you should be able to see them without a magnifying glass. Look for little pear-shaped bodies with thin spindly legs and pipes called "cornicles" at the bottom of their abdomen. They don't move around very fast because they are usually in the process of feeding. Look out for aphids from Spring to Autumn, and it's much better to treat for aphids before they build up big colonies.

Some of the more common species found in greenhouses include the green peach aphid (Myzus persicae) which vary in colour from pale yellow to green to pinkish-red and the melon or cotton aphid (Aphis gossypii) and the black bean aphid (Aphis Fabae). There is also an aphid that specialises in brassicas called the Mealy cabbage aphid (Brevicoryne brassicae)

Why control or treat for aphids?

Aphids suck the sap out of the leaves and stems of the host plants, weakening them and causing distortion to emerging flowers and leaves. Bad Aphid infestations are very debilitating. The buds don't swell fully, and often the flowers and fruit are small. Unchecked an infestation can wipe out seedlings and young plants so it is best to introduce controls for aphids as soon as you find aphids in the garden.

It's not just the physical damage that aphids do but because aphids feed directly on the sap they are thought to be responsible for passing on viruses and other pathogens from plant to plant.

You won't be able to see any holes or bite marks because aphids feed by jabbing their long sharp mouth parts into the soft parts of the plant and sucking out the juices into their body.

Aphids excrete a sticky honeydew which turns black in damp conditions, resulting in sooty mould. This blocks the leaf pores and cuts out light falling on the leaves, apart from being quite unsightly, this sooty mould can starve the plant by blocking photosynthesis. Early aphid treatment will prevent all these problems.

How much do I need?

Normally 1 cocoon per 1 m2 per week, so 4 x 250 blister packs (1000) will treat between 100 and 1000 m2 depending on pest levels.

When to use

When the pest is present, adults eat honeydew (the residue from aphid attacks) and thrive best at about 20-26°C with high humidity. You can use them generally from April to September.

When the short days of autumn arrive the insects slow down and may overwinter as pupae.

The adult life span is 7-10 days, but it might be shorter if there is a lack of honeydew. Dry conditions also shorten life span. Mating usually occurs after sunset or before sunrise or on a fresh and shady place low in the crop.

How to use

Place the box of cocoons on the ground near the problem plants, or hang it amongst the branches. Tear open the back of the box so the midges can fly away when they are hatched. The box should be in a warm moist place – not too hot and dry. Usually its best to put them in the shade of a plant and angle the opening so the water can’t fill up the box.

Identifying Aphids

Aphids are a few mm across, so you should be able to see them without a magnifying glass. Look for little pear-shaped bodies with thin spindly legs and pipes called "cornicles" at the bottom of their abdomen. They don't move around very fast because they are usually in the process of feeding. Look out for aphids from Spring to Autumn, and it's much better to treat for aphids before they build up big colonies.

Some of the more common species found in greenhouses include the green peach aphid (Myzus persicae) which vary in colour from pale yellow to green to pinkish-red and the melon or cotton aphid (Aphis gossypii) and the black bean aphid (Aphis Fabae). There is also an aphid that specialises in brassicas called the Mealy cabbage aphid (Brevicoryne brassicae)

Why control or treat for aphids?

Aphids suck the sap out of the leaves and stems of the host plants, weakening them and causing distortion to emerging flowers and leaves. Bad Aphid infestations are very debilitating. The buds don't swell fully, and often the flowers and fruit are small. Unchecked an infestation can wipe out seedlings and young plants so it is best to introduce controls for aphids as soon as you find aphids in the garden.

It's not just the physical damage that aphids do but because aphids feed directly on the sap they are thought to be responsible for passing on viruses and other pathogens from plant to plant.

You won't be able to see any holes or bite marks because aphids feed by jabbing their long sharp mouth parts into the soft parts of the plant and sucking out the juices into their body.

Aphids excrete a sticky honeydew which turns black in damp conditions, resulting in sooty mould. This blocks the leaf pores and cuts out light falling on the leaves, apart from being quite unsightly, this sooty mould can starve the plant by blocking photosynthesis. Early aphid treatment will prevent all these problems.

Normally 1 cocoon per 1 m2 per week, so 4 x 250 blister packs (1000) will treat between 100 and 1000 m2 depending on pest levels.

When the pest is present, adults eat honeydew (the residue from aphid attacks) and thrive best at about 20-26°C with high humidity. You can use them generally from April to September.

When the short days of autumn arrive the insects slow down and may overwinter as pupae.

The adult life span is 7-10 days, but it might be shorter if there is a lack of honeydew. Dry conditions also shorten life span. Mating usually occurs after sunset or before sunrise or on a fresh and shady place low in the crop.

Place the box of cocoons on the ground near the problem plants, or hang it amongst the branches. Tear open the back of the box so the midges can fly away when they are hatched. The box should be in a warm moist place – not too hot and dry. Usually its best to put them in the shade of a plant and angle the opening so the water can’t fill up the box.

Aphid Midge will tackle a wide range of aphid species and are particularly useful for controlling aphids in early and late season.

Aphidoletes aphidimyza is a midge with predatory larvae that can control many aphid species. Adults are about 2mm long and lay eggs in colonies of aphids. Eggs hatch in 2-3 days and the orange-red larvae immediately start to search for aphids. Larvae inject a poison into the aphid to paralyse it and dissolve the body contents. The larvae take 7-16 days to mature before pupating in soil or compost and adults emerge after 10-14 days.

All our prices include P&P. Orders placed by 10am Monday will be despatched later in the week. The smaller size packs, 250 cocoons are only available March - September.


How to Manage Pests

Syrphid, flower, or hover flies

Flies in the Syrphidae family, 1000 species in North America

Click on image to enlarge

Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Diptera
Family: Syrphidae

Common prey: Predaceous on aphids and other small, soft-bodied insects.

Commercially available: No

DESCRIPTION Life Cycle

Syrphid flies are regularly found where aphids are present in agricultural, landscape, and garden habitats. Adults of this stingless fly hover around flowers, have black and yellow bands on their abdomen and are often confused with honeybees. Syrphid flies undergo complete metamorphosis with 3 larval instars. Females lay their whitish to gray oblong eggs, each measuring 1 mm (1.32 inch), singly on their sides usually near aphids or within aphid colonies. Larvae are legless and maggot shaped and vary in color and patterning but most have a yellow longitudinal stripe on the back. They can be distinguished from caterpillar larvae by their tapered head, lack of legs and their opaque skin, through which internal organs can be seen. Larvae vary in length from 1 to 13 mm (1/32 to 1/2 inch) depending upon their developmental stage and species. Pupa are oblong, pear-shaped, and green to dark brown in color. Pupation occurs on plants or on the soil surface.

Adult syrphid flies feed on pollen and nectar, while it is the larval stage that feeds on insects. Larvae of predaceous species feed on aphids and other soft-bodied insects and play an important role in suppressing populations of phytophagous insects. Larvae move along plant surfaces, lifting their heads to grope for prey, seizing them and sucking them dry and discarding the skins. A single syrphid larva can consume hundreds of aphids in a month. Not all syrphid fly larvae are predaceous, some species feed on fungi.

Publication on syrphid flies:

Statewide IPM Program, Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California
All contents copyright © 2014 The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.

For noncommercial purposes only, any Web site may link directly to this page. FOR ALL OTHER USES or more information, read Legal Notices. Unfortunately, we cannot provide individual solutions to specific pest problems. See our Home page, or in the U.S., contact your local Cooperative Extension office for assistance.

Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California


Green Lacewing

Green lacewing larvae dine up a broad range of soft-bodied harmful insects and their eggs, as well as mites. These powerful beneficial bugs are also often referred to as “aphid lions” and “aphid wolves.”

Adult green lacewings will compete with honeybees for nectar and pollen – their sole dietary source once they mature. Because it is only the larvae of these good bugs that help destroy destructive insects, you must do a bit of math and make sure the population roaming about in your garden is not too large.

A proper amount of the flying green lacewings placed into the growing area can kill more than 200 aphids in just seven days. Again, do a bit of math before releasing these beneficial bugs into the garden. If they run out of their natural food source, the green lacewings will cannibalize the other members of their own colony.

These beneficial insects typically hunt aphids, and lay their eggs among them so the offspring will have an ample food source once they hatch. It is unlikely you will see the tiny eggs, but they are laid on plant stalks and the underside of leaves.

Once the green lacewing eggs are hatched, the larvae will feed upon bad bugs for 21 days before spinning a cocoon to live inside for the five days it takes them to mature.

It will require approximately 1,000 green lacewings to treat roughly 1,000 square feet of growing space – for a cost of around $15.

How To Introduce Green Lacewings Into The Growing Area

  1. Release just a small portion of the green lacewing eggs at a time in varying locations around the garden.
  2. Turn and gently shake their shipping container before opening it.
  3. Spread the green lacewing larvae and the natural matter they were shipped around the growing area.
  4. Repeat this same process in about two weeks, spreading the rest of the green lacewing eggs about 14 days later.


Identify + Encourage These Beneficial Insects

Source: Kenton Forshee

Many common insects are actually good for your garden.

Our insect allies far outnumber the insect pests in our yards and gardens. Bees, flies, and many moths help gardeners by pollinating flowers predatory insects eat pest insects parasitic insects lay their eggs inside pests, and the larvae that hatch then weaken or kill the pests dung beetles, flies, and others break down decaying material, which helps build good soil.

BEES + WASPS

Bees
Honeybees are called the “spark plugs” of agriculture because of their importance in pollinating crops, but other wild bees are also important pollinators and natural pest-control agents. All bees gather and feed on nectar and pollen, which distinguishes them from wasps and hornets. As they forage for food, bees transfer stray grains of pollen from flower to flower and pollinate the blooms. There are some 20,000 species of bees worldwide. Of the nearly 5,000 in North America, several hundred are vital as pollinators of cultivated crops. Many others are crucial to wild plants.

Pesticide use, loss of habitat, and pest problems such as mites have vastly reduced wild and domestic bee populations. Most recently, a phenomenon called Colony Collapse Disorder is decimating populations of honeybees in the United States. It’s not known for sure what is causing this problem, in which worker bees suddenly die out, leaving behind the queen bee, the nurse bees, and the unborn brood (which in turn die without the support of the worker bees). Possibilities include diseases or parasites, or damaging effects of chemical pesticides on bees’ nervous systems or immune systems.

The good news is that native bees ranging from bumblebees to tiny “sweat bees” are still hard at work pollinating crops and gardens. The best way to encourage native bees is to tend a flower garden with as long a bloom season as possible. Leave some bare ground available for the bees to tunnel in to make nests, and provide a shallow water source where they can drink.

Parasitic Wasps
Most species belong to one of three main families: chalcids, braconids, and ichneumonids. They range from pencil-point-size Trichogramma wasps to huge black ichneumonid wasps. Parasitic wasps inject their eggs inside host insects the larvae grow by absorbing nourishment through their skins.

Yellow Jackets
Most people fear yellow jackets and hornets, but these insects are excellent pest predators. They dive into foliage and carry off flies, caterpillars, and other larvae to feed to their brood. So don’t destroy the gray paper nests of these insects unless they are in a place frequented by people or pets, or if a family member is allergic to insect stings.

Lady Beetles
This family of small to medium, shiny, hard, hemispherical beetles includes more than 3,000 species that feed on small, soft pests such as aphids, mealybugs, and spider mites. (Not all species are beneficial—for example, Mexican bean beetles also are lady beetles.) Both adults and larvae eat pests. Most larvae have tapering bodies with several short, branching spines on each segment they resemble miniature alligators. Convergent lady beetles (Hippodamia convergens) are collected from their mass overwintering sites and sold to gardeners, but they usually fly away after release unless confined in a greenhouse.

Ground Beetles
These swift-footed, medium to large, blue-black beetles hide under stones or boards during the day. By night they prey on cabbage root maggots, cutworms, snail and slug eggs, and other pests some climb trees to capture armyworms or tent caterpillars. Large ground beetle populations build up in orchards with undisturbed groundcovers and in gardens under stone pathways or in semipermanent mulched beds.

Rove Beetles
These small to medium, elongated insects with short, stubby top wings look like earwigs without pincers. Many species are decomposers of manure and plant material others are important predators of pests such as root maggots that spend part of their life cycle in the soil.

Other Beetles
Other beneficial beetles include hister beetles, tiger beetles, and fireflies (really beetles). Both larvae and adults of these beetles eat insect larvae, slugs, and snails.

Tachinid Flies
These large, bristly, dark gray flies place their eggs or larvae on cutworms, caterpillars, corn borers, stinkbugs, and other pests. Tachinid flies are important natural suppressors of tent caterpillar or armyworm outbreaks.

Syrphid Flies
These black-and-yellow or black-and-white striped flies (also called flower or hover flies) are often mistaken for bees or yellow jackets. They lay their eggs in aphid colonies the larvae feed on the aphids. Don’t mistake the larvae—unattractive gray or transluscent sluglike maggots—for small slugs.

Aphid Midges
Aphid midge larvae are tiny orange maggots that are voracious aphid predators. The aphid midge is available from commercial insectaries and can be very effective if released in a home greenhouse.

OTHER BENEFICIALS

Dragonflies
Often called “darning needles,” dragonflies and their smaller cousins, damselflies, scoop up mosquitoes, gnats, and midges, cramming their mouths with prey as they dart in zig-zag patterns around marshes and ponds.

Lacewings
The brown or green, alligator-like larvae of several species of native lacewings prey upon a variety of small insects, including aphids, scale insects, small caterpillars, and thrips. Adult lacewings are delicate, ½- to 1-inch 82green or brown insects with large, transparent wings marked with a characteristic fine network of veins. They lay pale green oval eggs, each at the tip of a long, fine stalk, along the midrib of lettuce leaves or other garden plants.

True Bugs
True bug is the scientifically correct common name for a group of insects. This group does include several pest species, but there are also many predatory bugs that attack soft-bodied insects such as aphids, beetle larvae, small caterpillars, pear psylla, and thrips. Assassin bugs, ambush bugs, damsel bugs, minute pirate bugs, and spined solider bugs are valuable wild predators in farm systems.

Spiders + Mites
Although mites and spiders are arachnids, not insects, they are often grouped with insects because all belong to the larger classification of arthropods. Predatory mites are extremely small. The native species found in trees, shrubs, and surface litter are invaluable predators. Phytoseiid mites control many kinds of plant-feeding mites, such as spider mites, rust mites, and cyclamen mites. Some also prey on thrips and other small pests. Many types of soil-dwelling mites eat nematodes, insect eggs, fungus gnat larvae, or decaying organic matter.

It’s unfortunate that so many people are scared of spiders, because they are some of the best pest predators around. We are most familiar with spiders that spin webs, but there are many other kinds. Some spin thick silk funnels some hide in burrows and snatch insects that wander too close, while others leap on their prey using a silk thread as a dragline.

ENCOURAGING BENEFICIALS

The best way to protect beneficial insects is to avoid using toxic sprays or dusts in the garden. Even organically acceptable sprays such as insecticidal soap and neem can kill beneficial species, so use them only when absolutely necessary to preserve a crop and then only on the plants being attacked. Be careful when you hand pick or spray pest insects, or you may end up killing beneficial insects by mistake. While many beneficials are too small to be seen with the unaided eye, it’s easy to learn to identify the larger common beneficials such as lacewings, tachinid flies, and lady beetles.

You can make your yard and garden a haven for beneficials by taking simple steps to provide them with food, water, and shelter.

Food Sources
A flower bed or border of companion plants rich in pollen and nectar, such as catnip, dill, and yarrow, is a food source for the adult stages of many beneficials, including native bees, lacewings, and parasitic wasps.

Water
Many types of beneficial insects are too small to be able to drink water safely from a stream, water garden, or even a regular birdbath. To provide a safe water supply for these delicate insects, fill a shallow birdbath or large bowl with stones. Then add just enough water to create shallow stretches of water with plenty of exposed landing sites where the insects can alight and drink without drowning. You’ll need to check this bug bath daily, as the water may evaporate quickly on sunny days.

Shelter
Leave some weeds here and there among your vegetable plants to provide alternate food sources and shelter for beneficial species. Plant a hedge or build a windbreak fence to reduce dust, because beneficial insects dehydrate easily in dusty conditions. And set up some permanent 83pathways and mulched areas around your yard and garden. These protected areas offer safe places for beneficials to hide during the daytime (for species that are active at night), during bad weather, or when you’re actively cultivating the soil.

Attracting beneficial insects. Making your garden a haven for beneficial insects is easy and fun. It’s also one of the cheapest and most environmentally sound ways to help prevent insect pests from getting the upper hand on your food crops and ornamentals.

To learn more about encouraging beneficial insects in your yard, visit the Web sites of organizations such as the Xerces Society.

BUYING BENEFICIAL INSECTS

Many garden supply and specialty companies offer beneficial insects for sale to farmers, nursery owners, and gardeners. You can buy everything from aphid midges to lady beetles and lacewings to predatory mites.

Buying and releasing beneficial insects on a large scale, such as a commercial farm field, or in a confined place, such as a greenhouse, can be a very effective pest-control tactic. However, in a typical home garden it’s rarely worthwhile. Chances are that most of the insects you release will disperse well beyond the boundaries of your yard. While that may be helpful for your neighborhood in general, it won’t produce any noticeable improvement in the specific pest problem that you hoped the good bugs would control in your garden. Overall, it’s more effective to invest money in plants that attract beneficial insects to your yard than it is to buy and release beneficial insects.

If you decide to experiment with ordering beneficial insects, make sure you identify the target pest, because most predators or parasites only attack a particular species or group of pests. Find out as much as you can by reading or talking to suppliers before buying beneficials.

Get a good look at the beneficials before releasing them so that you’ll be able to recognize them in the garden. You don’t want to mistakenly kill them later on, thinking them to be pests. A magnifying glass is useful for seeing tiny parasitic wasps and predatory mites. Release some of the insects directly on or near the infested plants distribute the remainder as evenly as possible throughout the rest of the surrounding area.


Watch the video: Organic Pest Control in Vegetable Crops - Farminar