First detected in Britain in 1981, the lupin aphid has become widespread in Britain. This large grey aphid can be found on annual and perennial lupins often causing plants to wilt.
Latin name Macrosiphum albifrons
Plants affected Annual and perennial lupins
Main symptoms Greyish white aphids on the foliage and flowers
Caused by A sap-sucking insect
What is lupin aphid?
Aphids, also known as greenfly and blackfly, are sap-sucking insects. Lupin aphid feeds on lupins (Lupinus). Native to North American it has become widespread in Britain since its arrival in the early 1980s.
Keep an eye out for the following on your lupins;
- Large, greyish-white aphids, up to 4mm long, form dense colonies on the underside of leaves and on the flower spikes
- Sticky foliage covered with honeydew excreted by the aphids
- Heavily affected plants often wilt
Check lupins frequently from spring onwards so action can be taken before a damaging population has developed. Unfortunatly this aphid can cause host plants to wilt. When choosing control options you can minimise harm to non-target animals by starting with the methods in the non-pesticide control section. If this is not sufficient to reduce damage to acceptable levels then you may choose to use pesticides. Within this group the shorter persistence pesticides (that are usually certified for organic growing) are likely to be less damaging to non-target wildlife than those with longer persistence and/or systemic action.
- Use finger and thumb to squash aphid colonies where practical
- Encourage aphid predators in the garden, such as ladybirds, ground beetles, hoverflies, parasitoid wasps and earwigs. Be aware that in spring aphid populations often build up before natural enemies are active in sufficient numbers and then give good control
Pesticide controlThe RHS believes that avoiding pests, diseases and weeds by good practice in cultivation methods, cultivar selection, garden hygiene and encouraging or introducing natural enemies, should be the first line of control. If chemical controls are used, they should be used only in a minimal and highly targeted manner.
- Organic sprays, such as natural pyrethrum (e.g. Bug Clear Gun for Fruit & Veg, Neudorff Bug Free Bug and Larvae Killer), fatty acids (e.g. Doff Greenfly & Blackfly Killer) or plant oils (e.g. Vitax Plant Guard Pest & Disease Control, Bug Clear for Fruit and Veg) can give good control of aphids. These pesticides have a very short persistence and so may require reapplication to keep aphid numbers in check. Plant oil and fatty acid products are less likely to affect larger insects such as ladybird adults
- Plant invigorators combine nutrients to stimulate plant growth with surfactants or fatty acids that have a physical mode of action against aphids (e.g. Ecofective Bug Control, RHS Bug and Mildew Control, SB Plant Invigorator and Westland Resolva Natural Power Bug & Mildew). These products contain some synthetic ingredients and so are not considered organic
- More persistent contact-action insecticides include the synthetic pyrethroids lambda-cyhalothrin (e.g. Westland Resolva Bug Killer), deltamethrin (e.g. Provanto Ultimate Fruit & Vegetable Bug Killer, Provanto Sprayday Greenfly Killer) and cypermethrin (e.g. Py Bug Killer)
- A systemic containing the active ingredient Flupyradifurone (Provanto Smart Bug Killer) is available for use on ornamentals and selected edibles
- The systemic neonicotinoid insecticide acetamiprid (e.g. Bug Clear Ultra) is also available
Plants in flower should not be sprayed due to the danger to bees and other pollinating insects
Inclusion of a pesticide product does not indicate a recommendation or endorsement by RHS Gardening Advice. It is a list of products currently available to the home gardener
Pesticides for gardeners (pdf document)
Lupin aphid is present on its host plants all year round.
Small numbers of aphids overwinter on the basal buds and they begin to reproduce in spring. For most of spring and summer the aphids are in the form of wingless females that give birth to live young. Aphid numbers generally peak when the plants are coming into flower.
When the aphids colonies become overcrowded in mid-summer, winged forms develop that can fly and colonise other lupins.
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