Aphids and agriculture

The impact of aphids on farm management and economics

The aphids belong to small groups of insects, yet they are the cause of extensive losses in crop plants. In the temperate zones, almost all agriculturally useful plants are at risk of being affected.

Aphids can wreak havoc in our gardens, preventing roses from reaching their true splendour, clogging up cherry trees with their sticky honeydew and weakening our apple and pear trees. Not so easy to see for the general public, but just as menacing are the attacks by these insects on extensively used crop plants like wheat, barley, maize among many others, directly by extracting vital sap, or indirectly by transmitting viral diseases.

Everyone fights against aphids in their own way. In our gardens, we can remove them meticulously by hand, or call on the help of natural enemies, such as ladybirds (what we call biological control). To protect the plants most severely hit, we can also resort to chemical agents, those famous insecticides (chemical control). Farmers do not have so much choice. The vast open expanses do not lend themselves to biological control, so chemical control remains the method most used. The war between aphids, plants and humans is far from over!

The aphids are continually thwarting control strategies. For example they develop insecticide-resistant forms or get around any resistance plants might have. In any case, some of the chemicals judged to be too strongly polluting are soon to be banned in the states of the European Connunity. Hence it is urgent to take action for the protection of our plants and our environment.

Modification date : 07 February 2023 | Publication date : 01 March 2010 | Redactor : Evelyne Turpeau, Maurice Hullé, Bernard Chaubet