Aphids bug Anchorage gardeners

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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Local gardeners are loading up on summer-time plants, but unfortunately so are aphids - tiny insects that can destroy flowers and vegetables quickly.

"The last two years before this one, we did not see nearly as many," said Steph Daniels, horticulturist at Bell's Nursery. "This year, it's almost double."

Daniels said she noticed a large amount of birch aphids this year, as they are often attracted to flowering plants, such as dark eyes fuchsia, geraniums and pansies. Lettuce is also a favorite of the pests.

If a plant is infested with aphids, it can be killed within a matter of days.

"They can take a plant down to nothing very, very quickly," Daniels said.

There's a variety of methods to control aphids, including soap-based liquids, pesticides and organic control products. Local nurseries even sell packet of live lady bugs, which consume aphids.

Daniels stressed that gardeners needs to make sure they match the right control measure to the right plant, especially when using pesticides.

"We've had people bring in plants that they've sprayed for aphids, when the sun was shining, and it's just like holding a magnifying glass on something," said Daniels. "It just fried all of the leaves right off of it."

Jessie Moan, an entomologist with the UAF Cooperative Extension Service, said aphids can be "site specific" to sections of town or neighborhoods. So far she said researchers have not seen a large-scale outbreak of aphids this spring.

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