Common Name: Green peach aphid
Scientific Name: Myzus persicae (Sulzer)
Description: Green peach aphids are small, usually less than 1/8 inch long. The body varies in color from pink to green with three darker stripes down the back and the head supports long antennae and red eyes. Adult aphids may be winged (alate) or wingless (apterous). Winged forms are usually triggered by environmental changes (e.g., decreasing photoperiod or temperature, deterioration of the host plant or overcrowding). On the back of the fifth abdominal segment, a pair of tube-like structures called “siphunculi” or “cornicles” are present on most aphid species. These structures secrete a defensive fluid.
Life Cycle: Simple metamorphosis; parthenogenic. Most aphids reproduce sexually and develop through gradual metamorphosis (overwintering diapause egg, nymphs and winged or wingless adults) but also through a process called ‘parthenogenesis’ in which the production of offspring occurs without mating. In Texas and other southern states, green peach aphids develop only through parthenogenesis, and females can produce three to six fully formed young per day for several weeks. There may be 30 generations per year. In cooler areas, winter is passed as black shiny sexually-produced eggs on the bark of peach, plum, apricot, and cherry.
Habitat and Food Source(s): Green peach aphid, also known as tobacco or spinach aphid has a wide range of host plants including lettuce, peach, potatoes, spinach, tomato, other vegetables and ornamental crops (flowering and bedding plants including chrysanthemums). They feed on all above-ground plant parts, and after some time, the cast whitish skins from the aphid’s developmental stages will accumulate on infested plant parts.
Pest Status, Damage: Injures plants by: 1) causing plant stress by directly removing plant juices (sap from phloem tissues); 2) reducing the aesthetic quality of infested plants by secreting a sugary liquid (excess plant sap called “honeydew”) on which a black-colored fungus called “sooty mold” grows, discoloring the foliage and further stressing the plant from preventing sunlight from reaching plant cells for photosynthesis; and 3) possibly transmitting plant diseases, particularly viruses; medically harmless.Discolored foliage, sooty mold prevents sunlight from reaching plant cells.
Management: See Vegetable IPM.
Literature: Baker 1982; Johnson & Lyon 1988.