Are aphids harmful to humans? No, not directly. They are harmless to humans. Aphids are tiny, soft-bodied insects that feed on plants. Their name comes from their appearance, which is reminiscent of a pear-shaped leafhopper. They’re actually more closely related to ants and bees, but they don’t sting or look particularly threatening.
They’re found all over the world, including in the United States and some of the Caribbean islands. Most people have never seen an aphid, but if you’ve got a garden or lawn with plants, you’ll probably come across them occasionally.
One of the most common backyard pests is the aphid — a small, sap-sucking insect that feeds on plants. These tiny critters can be annoying, but they’re also an important part of nature’s ecosystem.
There are two types of aphids you need to be concerned with — green aphids and black aphids. If they’re found only on one plant, you probably don’t need to worry too much about it. But if they’re found on multiple plants in your yard, you don’t want them to spread and infect your other gardens.
If you find aphids at all times of year, it’s a good idea to give them a bit of distance. Aphid infestations can spread quickly when left unchecked — especially aphid-borne viruses. If there’s an infestation in one part of your yard and you start spreading it to other yards nearby, you could be doing serious damage to the environment beyond just annoying your neighbors.
Aphids damage crops in a variety of ways. They suck sap from plants, which leads to stunted growth and reduced yields. They secrete enzymes that break down plant tissue. They transmit fungal diseases and cause rashes, itching, and other allergic reactions. And they can spread diseases to humans who come into contact with them.
Aphids are attracted to the sweet taste of plant juices, so they feed on the underside of leaves where that sweet liquid is concentrated, making them difficult to control.
Are Aphids Harmful To Humans?
Aphids are harmless to humans — they can’t transmit any diseases — but they can cause problems for plants. They suck sap from tender leaves and stems, weakening them and causing stunted growth. Left alone, they can cause the leaves to curl up at the edges and may discolor the plant’s foliage.
Aphid infestations usually occur when the plants become too crowded or when their natural predators are gone. Aphids are generalists that feed on a wide range of plants and trees. They’re especially attractive because they don’t require a lot of resources. Aphids can be a nuisance in gardens, but they’re not necessarily harmful to humans.
Some say aphids are beneficial because they control other pests like spider mites on certain plants. But their most devastating effect is on young seedlings or delicate plants that aren’t well suited for feeding by insects.
In fact, they’re one of the insects that help keep our food supply safe. Insects like aphids play an important role in recycling nutrients back into the soil by feeding on dead plant matter, which helps prevent many nutrient deficiencies in crops. In addition, they recycle organic material and form part of the decomposition process that helps enrich soil with beneficial elements such as nitrogen and trace minerals.
There are several key reasons why aphids aren’t harmful to humans:
- They don’t carry diseases.
- They don’t bite or sting.
- They don’t carry any parasitic worms that are harmful to humans.
How aphids can affect plants
Some aphid species can transmit viruses from one plant to another. Others carry bacteria that cause diseases of the same plants. Aphids also carry fungi that infect plants with sooty mold. That can cause leaves to drop off, making the plant more susceptible to drought and disease. Also, the honeydew of aphids attracts ants, which will eat the honeydew and spread its spores or pathogens over your landscape or home garden.
They can do a lot of damage, and can be found almost anywhere there is a plant. Although they don’t usually cause much trouble in your home, they’re often present in fields and gardens. Once they find their way into your home, they can multiply quickly. They’re a common sight in gardens, orchards and vineyards. Many people don’t even notice them because in their infested plant, they appear as small black dots.
Once aphids have found a food supply — usually from nearby plants — they reproduce rapidly and quickly spread to other plants. The damage isn’t usually visible at first, but it can become more obvious over time.
Another problem with aphids is that they leave behind a sweet substance called honeydew — like sooty mold, except it’s white instead of black — on the plants they feed on. Ants love honeydew because it’s high in sugar, so not only do you get ants spreading pests around your yard but you also get ants eating the honey dew.
How to get rid of Aphids from your home
If you suspect you have an infestation, consider taking these steps:
1) Disinfect surfaces with a bleach solution or kill all the insects immediately with insecticidal soap;
2) Remove any furniture or other objects from the room;
3) Vacuum the area thoroughly to remove eggs and adult aphids;
4) Seal openings in your home to keep out future infestations;
5) Apply insecticidal soaps or horticultural oils as an additional precaution. To control aphids with insecticides, there are several options:
Imidacloprid is an effective insecticide for aphids and other soft-bodied insects that’s also safe for humans and pets. It’s applied as a granular concentrate or liquid concentrate, depending on the formulation. The granular product is mixed with water to create a solution that’s applied directly to plant foliage to provide immediate coverage. Imidacloprid is available in ready-to-use versions (e.g., Garden Insect Spray) or as concentrates that need to be mixed with water before use (e.g., Terro Liquid Insect Spray). Pyrethrin is another insecticide that’s available, you can use to control aphids.
6) Use beneficial ladybugs as a natural predator of aphid populations. These insects eat aphids, and they will eat just about anything else that gets in their way, including other pests like whiteflies, thrips and mites that feed on your plants.
7) Integrated pest management approach
The best defense against aphids is an integrated pest management approach that includes crop rotation and optimal use of pesticides.
When spraying insecticides, it’s important to use the right product for the type of pest you’re targeting. If you’re treating aphids but miss some important aphid-attracting crop residue on your plants, you’ll end up doing more harm than good.
Summarily, Are aphids harmful to humans? No. Although aphids don’t harm humans directly, but they do affect people indirectly through their effects on non-native flora and fauna. They’re a nuisance in gardens, and they may also damage crops such as fruit trees by leaving a sticky residue behind when they feed.