Identifying aphidius wasp in your organic garden

Identifying aphidius wasp in your organic garden post thumbnail image

Aphids are a common nuisance for many gardeners, but these sap-sucking pests often arrive alongside beneficial predators. These predators can help keep aphid populations under control. It is easy to overlook signs of natural aphid control in your garden without knowing what to look for. This guide aims to help identify one of the most effective allies – aphidius wasp. It is one of the best natural ways to get rid of aphids in your garden. Knowing how to spot the subtle signs of these parasitoid wasps within aphid colonies means you can support their efforts. At the same time, you can avoid disruptive interventions that risk harming them.

This tiny parasitoid wasp in the genus Aphidius is commonly known as the aphidius wasp. These are crucial natural aphid predators, keeping populations in check. They are completely harmless to us and can’t sting humans. Identifying aphidius wasps can be difficult due to their solitary nature and size of around 1-3mm. These little wasps do not sting people. Knowing what to look for makes it much easier to identify the aphidius wasps quickly without the wasp present.

These little wasps occur worldwide and are natural enemies to many common aphid species. Aphidius wasp targets aphids and no other bugs, making them ideal aphid predators. The female aphidius wasp injects an egg into an aphid host, hijacking its body for the developing wasp larva. This process makes aphidius wasps tiny titans, wiping out aphid colonies from within. This image shows the cycle:

Check this Instagram post showing the process of the aphidius wasp ovipositing an egg into an aphid:

Signs of aphidius wasp activity in your garden

So you have an aphid infestation, but how do you know if you have aphidius wasp present? Some signs of these ferocious aphid predators are swollen aphid bodies much bigger than the normal-sized tiny aphids. Aphids can not become so bloated from sucking plant juices. But to the untrained eye, it might still be difficult to identify.

The most telltale sign that you have these aphid predators is the presence of mummified aphid husks. These will be present on your plant leaves. See an example of three aphid mummies in the photo to the left. To some gardeners, they resemble large eggs…

Look up close, you might notice that some of the aphid mummies have tiny holes. This means the entire cycle has already occurred and the new little wasp has emerged from the aphid body.

How effective is the aphidius wasp at controlling aphids?

A single female aphidius wasp can lay up to 300 eggs during her lifespan. She can detect aphids, even during low infestations. Wasps will also only target the non-parasitised aphids. Having aphidius wasps in your garden is the perfect natural solution to control aphid populations. These aphid predators will also increase quickly. Aphidius wasps are beneficial insects for aphid control because they can detect alarm signals from plants under stress conditions. They can smell the honeydew aphids excrete. This makes the aphidius wasp a great natural way to get rid of the aphids in your garden

Must I remove the mummies?

You can leave the aphid mummies on the leaves if they are not in the way. There will be a visual impact, but at least it is the work of a friend in the garden. However, having aphid mummies on leaves or plants you want to consume can be frustrating. So sometimes there might be a reason to remove them.

Gently remove any mummies you find on edible plant parts like leaves or fruits you want to use. But leave intact mummies on other areas like stems. You can leave them in a small container filled with sawdust. Ants might eat your aphid mummies if they land directly in the garden. The developing wasp inside remains an ally, soon to emerge and seek more aphid hosts. It is best to protect them.

The two macro photos below show the exit holes in the mummified aphids. Cecile Roux took the pictures.

How do I get aphidius wasps in the garden if I have none?

Without pesticides, aphidius wasps will arrive if there are aphids to target. Spraying the aphids with any pesticide will also kill aphidius wasps. You can plant trap crops to attract aphids, naturally inviting aphid predators. Alternatively, you can kickstart the process, and purchase aphidius wasps from any organic supplier stocking beneficial insects for aphid control.

Other beneficial insects for aphid control

Several insects can help you to get rid of aphids. Other common natural aphid predators in gardens providing effective biological aphid control include lacewings, ladybugs, hoverfly larvae, and praying mantis. In addition, another aphid predator is aphidend, a predatory gall midge targeting aphids. Get to know these beneficial insects for aphid control lurking wherever aphids congregate!

By supporting balanced ecosystems with these organic aphid predators at work, gardeners can manage aphid problems naturally without chemical interventions. By knowing what to look for, you can identify these crucial beneficial insects for aphid control in your garden.

Aphidius wasp fun facts:

Fertilised eggs will become female aphidius wasps, and unfertilised will be males.
Aphidius wasps can tell if another wasp has laid an egg inside the aphid
Aphidius wasps will target 40 different aphid species

Learn more about aphidius wasp in this insightful video:

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