Root Aphids, Fungus Gnats, and other fun bugs (ID PICS)

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Hey everybody! Hope this helps ID problems with some common garden pests and critters.

Root Aphids (Aphidoidea)

"Root Aphid" is a broad term describing an unknown number of species of aphids that can attack crop roots. They are most commonly seen outdoors, where they feed on leaves of plants and overwinter either as a dormant egg or as a colony feeding on stored sugars/starches in plant roots. Indoors they are common pests due to the concentration of sugars, amino acids, and nutrients in the roots. Aphid eggs are sought after by some species of ants, who will nurture a colony of aphids to feed on their sugar and nutrient rich excrement. A common misunderstanding is the referencing of Root Aphids to phylloxera, which is another family of insects that is very similar to aphids but lacks the telltale "tailpipes" and "honeydew" discharge that distinguishes aphids.

here are some pictures of root aphids in their winged or "flier" form

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you can see by these images that the winged aphid holds it's wings parallel and vertical, at the sides of it's body. It's head is similar sized to the rest of the body, and it's abdomen is either green, yellow, brown/red, or black depending on diet. It's legs are also all of a similar size (male aphids can have quite long legs, however). Immature aphids can also be seen in the bottom picture.

"crawler" form:

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Notice the "tailpipes" (cornicles) on the abdomen of the aphid. These protect it when it feels threatened by producing a hard, waxlike substance that coats the aphid's exterior. This aphid was unique in that it displayed many of the common colors of root aphids. Depending on what they feed on and their maturity aphids can be any shade of either yellow, green, or red, and occasionally black/brown.

an example of aphid colonization/infestation

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Fungus Gnats (Mycetophiloidea)

Fungus gnats are generally obnoxious because they get stuck in flowers in large numbers. Since their larva eat decaying matter, a growing population of fungus gnats generally indicates either over-watered plants/over saturated media, or an unhealthy root mass. Females will travel from pot to pot looking for optimum conditions to lay eggs. Females lay eggs in the top 2-3 inches of soil and can lay up to 200 in her 10 day life. Both the eggs and the larvae are very cold resistant, but cannot survive without a moist environment. It is recommended to let the top 2-3 inches of soil dry out between waterings in most media to avoid fungus gnats, especially late in flower.

Fungus Gnat flier:

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You can see that fungus gnats have three definitive body segments, very long legs, and wings that overlap and fold flat over it's abdomen. They are generally much larger than winged root aphids.

Fungus Gnat larvae

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The brown inside this guy is whatever he's been eating...probably roots as this picture was taken very late in flush. Normally they are clear like the section directly before his head. You can see his black head as well as his body segments, very similar to a caterpillar or inchworm.


And last but not least, a beneficial insect, the springtail

IMG_0131.jpg


these guys resemble thrips, but are very small, clear, and can dart away quite quickly. Usually found in the runoff of pots after watering, having a springtail population isn't something to worry about. It is a sign that the soil biosphere (the rhizosphere) is balanced and in check. Springtails are known to eat spores and mycelia of pathogenic fungi that can cause damping off, as well as carry mycorhizzal fungi to root hosts, and control other forms of microlife that become imbalanced or disrupt the rhizosphere. Springtails are estimated to have some of the highest populations of any animals on earth, and play an important role in soil conditioning.
IMG_0134.jpg

Springtails are nice to eachother, they know what's up. They're you're friends, too!


That's all for now folks, thanks for lookin!
 
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Very very good images! Props for sharing we. Thank you and respect.

I recently started finding clouds of some larvae floating on top of the water in some of my soil pots and I cannot tell if its a repopulation of thrips, or if its the springtails. When I water the effected plants I see tiny white bodies float motionless to the top of the puddle, and as the water gets absorbed I see them start to dance just as the water drains fully into the soil. They then crawl away with the quickness. Anybody know how I can differentiate between the the thrips and springs? Do thrips nymphs move the way I'm trying to describe? Here's a pic of thrips nymph for comparison.

thrips2.jpg


A bit off topic but is spinosad effective against thrips nymphs/larvae?
 
1,613
263
Very very good images! Props for sharing we. Thank you and respect.

I recently started finding clouds of some larvae floating on top of the water in some of my soil pots and I cannot tell if its a repopulation of thrips, or if its the springtails. When I water the effected plants I see tiny white bodies float motionless to the top of the puddle, and as the water gets absorbed I see them start to dance just as the water drains fully into the soil. They then crawl away with the quickness. Anybody know how I can differentiate between the the thrips and springs? Do thrips nymphs move the way I'm trying to describe? Here's a pic of thrips nymph for comparison.

View attachment 301541

A bit off topic but is spinosad effective against thrips nymphs/larvae?
aye! If they are in the pots in large numbers and not the leaves, and are not yellow or brown, I doubt they are thrips. Thrips can be jumpy and quick but the nymphs have a distinct yellow color to them and if you can look close enough you can see springtails have rounded abdomens and thrips have pointy abdomens. Next time I'm in a garden with thrips I'll make sure to get pictures. And also - spinosad is my go-to when thrips are present, extremely effective against them when used every four days. Just don't spray it outside because it is linked to colony collapse disorder in bees. I haven't seen it be as effective against anything else.

Would you have any good pics of predatory mite?
I actually have no pictures of any mites- I've never had to deal with them and avoid gardens that have them. I keep extremely clean and follow pretty thorough preventative measures, which keeps my garden pest and pathogen free (knocking on wood). However, in the interest of documenting an extensive archive of common indoor garden pests, I'm on the lookout for some bugs :)
 

Seamaiden

Living dead girl
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How/why is it strange that we see root aphids, dutchman? We have extensive agriculture in the U.S., and Phylloxera (one genus of RAs) are well known. Of course there are myriad species, I personally was never able to identify for certain what species I had, but I happen to live in heavy conifer forest and my initial infestation occurred outdoors, 30' up off the ground.

Ok, so, fungus gnats. I've been using emulsified Neem oil to deal with them, and didn't keep up on application. My reward was an EXPLOSION of fungus gnats to the point that I've lost half a dozen seedlings. All show the blunted root ends typical of larval feeding. I also noted that I see a buildup of goo that turned out to be Neem, so I'm dropping that from the regimen right now. I discovered that Home de Pot has some of the best pricing (online at least) and shipping rates for beneficial nematodes, and so I got clicky wid it and hopefully those should be here soon. If the weather were a bit warmer I'd just put all the seedlings outside and let nature do her work, but I really want a good head start with these babies. I think I also need to treat the veggie seedlings much more aggressively, instead of focusing on the cannabis.
 
How/why is it strange that we see root aphids, dutchman? We have extensive agriculture in the U.S., and Phylloxera (one genus of RAs) are well known. .
Just because I never heard of that before, it is not common here...
I only know Sciridae larvae and they are no real threat. When you see the flies, just put nemetodes in the soil and the are gone.
 
Just because I never heard of that before, it is not common here...
I only know Sciridae larvae and they are no real threat. When you see the flies, just put nemetodes in the soil and the are gone.
That is a sciridae larvae and that is the sciridae fly:


Very easy to handle here with Steinernema feltiae nematodes.
heard it is more difficult to get rid of them overseas. Strange differences in nature....
 

Seamaiden

Living dead girl
23,629
638
Maybe differences in cultivation practices, that's honestly what I'm thinking. I've ordered the nematodes, I'm losing seedlings to these stupid bugs. I've set sticky traps around my home and basement, they are truly everywhere, anywhere it's warm enough for them to breed, there they are. I'll be sitting on the toilet and see a fungus gnat flying over the sink!
 

Texas Kid

Some guy with a light
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263
I used to get Springtails in my hydro res's and even though they are supposed to be benificial it screwed with my mind seein those jumpin around in the water

I just went Toxic Avenger on an aphid attack...beat'm over the weekend but there wasn't anythng organic about it...lol
 

Seamaiden

Living dead girl
23,629
638
I never freaked out about assassin bugs in the house. Until I started getting these weird, hard, hot, ITCHY lumps overnight. Then I learned about kissing bugs. I used STEAM to kill them, but now I kinda freak out just a little bit every time I see anything that looks like an assassin bug.

I try not to trip out on every tiny living thing I see, but sometimes it's hard not to be girly.
 
fungus gnats are the worst because they spread root disease. The larvae will cause bacterial stem rot. I hate them.
.
Not here, strangely enough....here they are just something you treat when there are too many flies. Nobody regrads them as dangerous, maybe they are really different, I dont know.
 

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