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Re: CULT: Aphids and PBF

From: Bill Shear <BILLS@hsc.edu>

>No, aphids do not eat, i.e., chew on plants, but they do suck the juices
>from plants and thereby weaken them, and can transmit diseases in the

THis is correct.  However, if aphids attack young, growing portions of
plants, their feeding can cause serious distortion and even the death of
the young soft parts.
>I took advantage of the mild weather yesterday afternoon to perform some
>late fall cleanup chores in my iris beds and was dismayed to find heavy
>infestations of aphids on some of the clumps. As I proceeded through the
>bed it seemed that the aphids were preferentially seeking out the cultivars
>with purple based foliage (pbf). The pbf cultivars are scattered randomly
>throughout the bed, but of 11 pbf cultivars 7 were infested with aphids
>while out of 63 non-pbf cultivars only two had aphids, and both of these
>were growing next to pbf varieties. Is it possible that, at least at this
>time of year, the aphids are attracted to the purple foliage?

Jeff, this is a significant difference.  You may have something.  At this
point though we have no control observations and there are too many other
possible factors.  I, too, have noticed heavy aphid infestations on iris
foliage in the late fall and winter.  It may be that iris foliage is
exceptionally attractive or perhaps the only foliage available at this
time.  Or, it could be an aphid species that is active in cool weather and
supressed when the weather is hot.

This is an opportunity to attack these overwintering populations and get
them under control.

Bill Shear
Department of Biology
Hampden-Sydney College
Hampden-Sydney VA 23943
FAX (804)223-6374

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