Aphids (AKA little alien pests)

Aphids suck, literally. They are small, soft-bodied insects that use long, slender piercing mouthparts to suck up plant fluids. Aphids are a common issue for home-scale gardeners all the way to industrial farms, so they are a pretty well-known pest. But did you know how crazy these small insects are? They have a very complex interesting life.

To start, you can’t identify a species of aphids based on their color. Their color will change based on what they are feeding on, so the best way to identify them is by the shape of their body, which can be difficult considering how small they are. You also can’t identify them based on whether they have wings or not. Aphids are born without wings, however, when the aphid population becomes too high in a certain area, females will start producing offspring with wings so they can fly away and colonize new plants. Isn’t that crazy?!

Can you see why these insects are starting to get wild? Just wait it gets even crazier. The first generation of aphids will hatch in the spring. During the spring and summer, more generations of only female aphids will be born. All of these aphids will be born female and reproduce asexually. This results in genetic clones of the mother. Additionally, these clones will be born alive and not laid as an egg. The life span of one of these females is roughly 25 days, within this 25 days, one female can produce over 80 new aphids. When fall approaches, a generation is born and they will grow into both males and females. Once there are males, the aphids will sexually reproduce and lay eggs which closes the reproductive cycle.

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