Just after the rainy season, the insects begin getting quite active in Nevada, like everywhere else. Interestingly, two of the smallest insects can cause the biggest of problems in our region. We’re talking about ants and aphids; these tiny, persistent creatures can negatively impact any yard or garden.
Aphids are Lice
Aphids are commonly called “plant lice” and for good reason. They’re smaller than a grain of rice and can spread like wildfire over any outdoor plants. A closer look shows that aphids have a tiny little pear-shaped body with antennae and long legs that can grip the underside of leaves. Aphids are known to be prolific breeders, so if you spot a few on a prized potted rose bush, work quickly to eliminate them or overnight you’ll face a huge infestation that can eat the rose bush down to a nub.
Aphids don’t even have to find a partner to mate; all aphids are females and they’re all born with eggs inside them that are waiting to hatch. Aphids feed on plants in the same way bed bugs feed on human blood. Aphids stick their sharp mouths into a vulnerable plant and suck it dry.
If you have an aphid infestation on your indoor houseplants or outside, we have ways to help you eliminate these pests.
Now lets look at another small insect that wreaks a lot of havoc in Nevada every year.
Ants – Where’s There’s One, There’s 1,000
Nevada is home to some seriously dangerous insects like scorpions, bees, and wasps. But we’re also home to ants that, if they catch you, can also inflict some serious damage. We’re talking about southern fire ants, which can, and have, actually killed people and pets by stinging them to death. If a next is disturbed, these creatures will swarm out and attack; they are very aggressive.
Southern fire ants feed on fatty meats and seeds. They will next anywhere, including in the wall of a home. Their aggression is well documented and five million Americans are stung and bitten (they do both) by fire ants each year. The fire ants inject the histamine chemical causing extreme pain, redness, itching, and swelling. For those allergic to these stings, they may experience slurred speech, shortness of breath, chest pains, and shock.
As if this isn’t enough to worry about, there are six other types of ants in Nevada, including the carpenter ant, which likes to chew on your home. Carpenter ants cause countless problems in Nevada because they like to build nests in wood. It’s common to find them in the foundations of homes where they can cause structural problems over time. These ants travel in packs of thousands – or millions depending on the size of the colony.
Ants and Aphids are Symbiotic
Aphids and ants have a symbiotic relationship. That’s because aphids’ secret a chemical waste product that ants like to eat. It’s sugary, so the ants enjoy it and have even been known to carry aphids to plants so that they will feed and secrete more.