UC Cooperative Extension Ventura County
669 County Square Drive Suite 100
Ventura CA 93003
Monday - Thursday: 8 am to 5 pm
Friday: 8 am to noon or by appointment
There are many species of aphids, and they come in all colors from pale yellow to green to red to brown to black. Most aphids are wingless, but there may be some winged forms also present. Most aphids give birth to living young, which are miniature forms of their adult mother. All aphids feed by piercing the plant with a hypodermic needle mouthpiece and suck plant sap. The plant sap is high in carbohydrates, so the aphid must take in way more liquid than it needs to get its nutrition. The excess carbohydrates are excreted as honeydew. Ants like the honeydew, so will attend to aphids to get this sugar solution. In the process the ants protect the aphids (their food source) from parasites and predators. This same relationship applies to whiteflies, scale insects, and mealy bugs. Therefore, whenever garden plants are infested with these pests, attention should be paid to ant control as well as aphid, whitefly, scale or mealy bug control.