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Vegetable IPM Updates Archive
Cooperative Extension
Aphid Movement in Leafy Vegetables (November 12, 2014)
Now that the weather has finally broken a bit and the wind is actively blowing out of the north and west, you should begin to see an increase in winged (alate) aphids showing up on desert produce crops. This is an annual occurrence as our key aphid pests on produce do not over-summer here, but rather migrate into our cropping system from mountainous regions of southern California via wind currents during the late fall. Once the aphids reach our desert valleys, they typically move from crop to
crop until they find a suitable host to feed and colonize on. But don’t panic just because you suddenly find a few winged aphids on the plant. It is not uncommon to find winged aphids on lettuce or broccoli that do not colonize on the crop. An example of these would be cabbage aphid, which will colonize and infest cole crops but not lettuce, spinach or celery. Other examples would include aphids that colonize small grains (i.e., corn leaf aphid) or alfalfa (i.e., pea aphid). Because these aphid species will not colonize produce crops, it is important to be able to distinguish them from the aphids that do colonize and require management to prevent problems at harvest (i.e., green peach aphid, foxglove aphid, lettuce aphid, cabbage aphid). Proper aphid ID can also influence your choice of insecticide, but more on that in a later update. Don’t be surprised if you start finding small colonies of cowpea aphids showing up on frame leaves in lettuce. That is a common occurrence every fall. Not to worry, experience has shown us that although small cowpea aphid colonies may be found on lettuce, the populations generally stay low on the plant on the frame leaves and rarely increase to levels causing contamination issues. But you never know. So keep an eye for these guys, as our weird weather this year may be more conducive to their development than normal. So, proper aphid identification is important; it can save a PCA time and money, and prevent unnecessary insecticide applications. If you find an unusual aphid in your produce, don’t hesitate to drop it by the Ag Center and we’ll get it identified for you. But if you want to be fast and accurate you might use the attached publication Aphid Identification in Desert Produce Crops that may assist you in identifying winged and wingless (apterous) aphids important in leafy vegetables and cole crops.
Remember, When in Doubt . . . . . “SCOUT”

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For questions or comments on any of the topics please contact Marco Pena at the Yuma Agricultural Center.
College of Agriculture, The University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ.

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