In a nutshell: A problem for both soil-grown plants and hydroponics; pest of grasses, Solanacea, hemp and cannabis; root sap suckers—cause plants to wilt and yellow, excrete sticky “honeydew”; winged and wingless stages can occur; most of the life cycle takes place underground.
What are rice root aphids?
The rice root aphid (Rhopalosiphum rufiabdominalis) is a well-known pest in North America that survives outdoors all year round. It can also affect plants grown in both soil and hydroponic systems. Unlike other aphids, most of this pest’s life cycle takes place underground, so it may be difficult to identify an infestation. These insects can reproduce year-round indoors. However, they can only live a few days without feeding on a host plant and they give birth to live offspring instead of laying eggs.
What kinds of plants do they attack?
Outdoors, rice root aphids are most often a pest of grasses, such as wheat and barley. In gardens, it can attack eggplant, potato and tomato as well as apricot and plum trees. In greenhouse culture, it only attacks hemp and cannabis plants.
What do they look like?
Like most aphids, the rice root aphid appears in both winged and wingless forms. The wingless form is dark olive-green, with a round body 1.4–2.4 mm long. It lives and feeds on the roots of the host plant. The winged form is about 1.8 mm long, darker than the wingless form, with a brown-black head. Aphids in the winged stage will emerge from the soil and fly away to colonize other plants. Indoor crops can be infested by the winged aphids when they’re brought in from outside sources or when the insects enter through greenhouse vents or other openings.
How do I know if my plants are under attack?
Because they suck the plant’s vital sap from the roots, plants infested with rice root aphids will wilt and become discoloured and yellow. Like other aphids, this pest also excretes excess sugar as “honeydew,'' which promotes the growth of mould and fungus. These aphids can also transmit barley yellow dwarf virus between plants.
How to get rid of Rice root aphid
Koppert offers different solutions for biological pest control of Rice root aphid.