Aphids leave your plants dry and listless, but do aphids make webs around them too? Which other bug lays webs, if not aphids? Let’s find out.
Aphids are infamous for leaving behind a sticky substance called honeydew on leaves. But making webs – leave that up to a close relative of aphids – the spider mites.
It is easy to confuse your garden with spider mites and aphids, and both are common across North America. But knowing how they both infest your plants will help you combat them.
In this article, let us tell you how to tell these insects apart.
Do Aphids Make Webs? What Do They Make?
No, aphids do not make webs. They leave honeydew on leaves, a sticky and sugary substance that causes mold and attracts other bugs.
If you see webs on your plant and no spiders around, it is likely the work of a spider mite – an insect that looks similar to aphids.
Aphids are a common form of garden pests that mainly infests outdoor plant foliage and stems of their host plants. They are not harmful to humans since they are herbivorous insects.
These insects feed on plant sap to extract nutrients from it, leaving the plant devoid of its nutrition. Heavy infestations can even kill the entire plant.
They also lay their eggs on the undersides of leaves, which makes it harder to find them.
Like spiders leaving behind webs, aphids leave behind a sweet, sticky substance known as honeydew.
This substance is crucial in the interactions of aphids and ants. Ants love honeydew, and they protect aphids from getting it from them.
How To Tell Spider Mites and Aphids Apart?
Spider mites and aphids are both tiny insect pests that can be difficult to distinguish. Here are a few tips that can come in handy to differentiate them.
- Spider mites and aphids are both very tiny, but while the mites will be red, brown, or white, the aphids will commonly be green, black, grey, or red.
- Spider mites belong to the arachnid family and will have eight legs with no antenna on them. On the other hand, aphids are insects with six legs and two long antennae.
- Spider mites are oval-shaped with a wide and clear mid-section. The shape of aphids will be like a teardrop or pear with a wider abdomen.
- Spider mites are similar to spiders, so there will be colonies around leaves and flowers where there are infestations. Aphid infestations leave a sticky substance called honeydew that will normally have a trail of ants around it.
Are Spider Mites Dangerous To Plants?
Spider mites may not be the most harmful pests, but they are capable of causing at least some damage.
These mites make webs around plant parts, which stops the growth of the plant. A heavy spider mite infestation can also kill a plant.
A spider mite infestation can appear as yellow and brown spots around the leaves. Over time, these spots spread throughout the plants and stop them from processing the required nutrition.
However, if caught in time, there is a good chance for a plant to recover from the damage. A vast majority of spider mites are easy to notice because of the webs, but you have to try and control them early on.
You can control most infestations with non-insecticidal methods like strong water sprays or by releasing beneficial insects. For something stronger, you can use insecticidal soap sprays.
How To Control Aphids & Spider Mites?
There are a few steps to take when you are trying to control a spider mite infestation:
- Before anything else, Inspect your plants regularly for signs of spider mite activity. If you can spot any kind of webs, removing them can help prevent a major infestation.
- Use a fine-grade horticultural oil or insecticidal soap on the plants that can kill the mites and their eggs.
- Introduce beneficial predators into your garden, which include ladybugs, lacewings, and certain species of predaceous mites.
Controlling an aphid infestation might take a little more work. Here are two important things that you can do:
- Using chemical infestation can help control a major infestation on the underside of leaves, where aphid densities tend to be higher.
- Introduce natural predators of aphids like ladybugs, lacewings, and parasitic wasps.
Frequently Asked Questions
What kind of bugs makes webs on plants?
Small insects, such as spiders or mites, often create webs on plants.
These insects spin webs to catch their prey, including other small insects or even pollen. They also make webs to protect the eggs they lay on the plants they are infesting.
What mites make webs?
Spider mites are the most common mites that create webbing around plants.
Other mites that may build webs include clover mites, eriophyid mites, and gall mites. These webs can damage leaves and stunt plant growth, causing your plant to wither and die over time.
How do I get rid of spider mites on my plants?
One of the simplest ideas to get rid of spider mites from plants is to spray the leaves and stems with a strong spray of water.
There are a few insecticidal soaps that are effective in removing spider mite webs. Releasing beneficial insects can also work in getting rid of the webs from plants.
Is an aphid a spider?
Aphids are not spiders; they are insects. These pests belong to the Aphidoidea superfamily, which comes from sap-feeding insects’ food web structures.
Aphids feed on plant sap that attracts other insects like ants, creating trophic links among the creatures.
Aphids or spider mites – neither can be good news for your garden. And while aphids do not make webs around their infestations like the mites, they leave their signs behind.
Looking out for these signs can be the best way to prevent any major, long-term damage. Releasing beneficial insects in your garden can also help.
Thank you for reading, and look for the plants during your next cleaning day!
Over the years, our readers have sent us several emails on this topic. Please go through them below.
Letter 1 – Giant Bark Aphids with eggs
Subject: Bug I can’t identify
Geographic location of the bug: Northern NJ
Time: 01:32 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: Saw these on a pin oak this morning
How you want your letter signed: Ryan Moore
We quickly identified what we suspected were Giant Bark Aphids, Longistigma caryae, on BugGuide, but there were no images of what we suspected might be eggs. The Bug of the Week site has a nice image with the caption: “Eggs of the giant bark aphid are the overwintering stage. They line small branches by the thousands and change from amber to black as they age.”
Letter 2 – Milkweed Aphids
Subject: Yellow mites? Bugs? What are they?
Location: Northern IL – October
October 18, 2015 7:03 pm
While doing some fall cleanup today, I came across these interesting critters. We have a swamp milkweed plant in the yard (which has done a fine job attracting the butterflies – many monarchs this summer – yay!). I was cutting back the stalks of the milkweed and at the base of one of those stalks, I found this interesting collection of… something. At first I thought it was a fungus or mold, but then realized they had legs and were moving! They are a beautiful color – just wondering what they are? We are in northern Illinois.
Thanks for any help you can provide!
You have Milkweed Aphids, Aphis nerii, and according to BugGuide it is: “native to the Mediterranean, now cosmopolitan. Introduced along with its host plant, oleander. It has spread beyond the geographic distribution of this plant to the entire US and Canada.” Aphids are not considered beneficial insects as they suck the juices from plants while feeding.
Letter 3 – Weevil and Aphids
Subject: Bug on hibiscus
Location: Plant city, fl
May 25, 2016 6:44 am
I saw this bug on a winter hibiscus flower. Please help identify.
The larger insect in your image is a Weevil, and there are numerous smaller Aphids visible as well.