Aphid or Alien?

A diagram features the different stages of life of an average aphid

A diagram features the different stages of life of an average aphid

Bella Smith, Photojournalist

Aphids are small insects that feast on sap, and they’re quite common and could usually be found under leaves near northern temperate zones. These insects are the textbook image of a bug, as they’re a pest in the garden, and almost always in a state of stillness. This may seem like an article that spreads aphid hate but it’s far from it. The contrast of how annoyingly derpy they are compared to all their crazy evolutions is just too funny! 

They eat by sucking up their host plant’s sap, and a lot of what they eat turns to waste while the excess is disposed of in forms of sugar droplets called honeydew. The plants that these aphids feast on usually become sticky with how much they are coated in honeydew.

Since ants love sugar, they’re very fond of aphids. There are ants that have the job of caring for their adopted aphids, carrying them leaf to leaf, and even taking them down to their nest during the winter. Much like shepherds, they protect their herds from predators. This is really helpful, as there are a ton of insects that like to prey on them since they’re nutritious and easy to prey on.

These insects fall short in almost all fields of survival; they’re slow, and when faced with a ladybug they, usually wait there without a clue. They’d be extinct if it wasn’t for their ability to quickly multiply. They’re so fast in multiplying that even despite all their disadvantages they’re found worldwide on most plants and gardens. Instead of laying eggs, they give birth to live nymphs. They can give birth 5-6 times a day, even more in some instances. With their lifespan of a month, a single aphid could give birth to around 170 nymphs.  They have a cool way of reproducing as well, aphids don’t need a mate. Instead, they clone themselves. With that it only takes a single aphid to infest a garden. When a plant becomes too crowded it periodically clones a set of aphids that fly  called alates. These alates fly plant to plant making their spread pretty annoying to deal with.

You wouldn’t think this is all going on in your garden

— Hailey Chou 11

Aphids are alien-like, being able to clone specific versions that fly, poop sugar, and have a symbiotic relationship with ants. There’s so much lore behind these bugs. Hailey Chou (11) was surprised by the presence of these bugs, as she stated that “You wouldn’t think this is all going on in your garden.” Though they’re a pain to deal with, learning about aphids gives an insight into how interesting a bug could be.