Egg -Almost microscopic, the egg is pale yellow-green.
Crawler -Tiny and pale green, the crawler has six legs, two antennae, and two red eyespots.
Nymph -The nymph is smaller than but similar in shape and color to wingless female adults.
Host Plants -Melons and other cucurbits, cotton, okra, hops, strawberries, beans, spinach, tomatoes, clover, asparagus, citrus, catalpa, violet, hydrangea, begonia, ground ivy, gardenia, and weeds are some of the hosts of melon aphids. They have been discovered feeding on plants in 25 plant families.
Damage -The melon aphid is an important pest of both agricultural and ornamental plants. On woody ornamentals, such as gardenias, feeding is confined to new growth in the spring.
The melon aphid feeds by piercing the plant surface with the threadlike mouthparts to suck out plant juices. This feeding causes distorted growth, decreased yield, reduced quality of yield, and prematurely ripened fruit. The fruit may be covered by the feeding aphids' honeydew and by cast skins.
The melon aphid transmits several important plant viruses, including cucumber mosaic, onion yellow dwarf, citrus quick decline, lily symptomless diseases, and lily rosette.
Life History -In the Southeast, melon aphids may spend part of the winter as wingless adults in soil or field debris. During warm periods, they travel to weedy hosts and continue feeding until cold weather forces them back into hibernation. In spring, winged females fly to suitable host plants and give birth to living young. Each female produces an average of 84 nymphs. Under favorable conditions, a nymph will mature in about 5 days and begin producing its own progeny. Most nymphs develop into wingless adults. However, when crowding occurs or food becomes scarce, winged adults develop and fly to new host plants. Reproduction continues through the winter as in the summer but at a much slower rate. Many overlapping generations are produced each year.
Syrphid maggots and ladybird beetles and their larvae feed upon melon aphids. Braconid wasps parasitize the aphids, and ants feed upon the honeydew excreted by feeding aphids.
Shrubs should be sprayed thoroughly when aphids are noticed on new growth in the spring. For specific chemical controls, see the current state extension service recommendations.
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