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Pea aphids

Agronomist, Erin Johns (JSA Independent), has reported finding moderate numbers of pea aphids in a vetch crop near Donald, in the Wimmera district of Victoria. Erin says the aphids are mostly colonising the stems of plants, which show no obvious signs of feeding damage. The paddock will not be sprayed as the crop is at the flowering stage and will be shortly cut for hay. Pea aphids are a minor pest of some pulse crops, lucerne, vetch, clover and other leguminous grasses. Growers should keep an eye out in these crops, but in many cases, even when aphids are present, there may not be a need to apply chemicals.

The pea aphid (Acyrthosiphon pisum) is a large aphid (about 4 mm in length) that has distinctive dark knee joints and antennal segments. Pea aphids feed on the upper leaves, stems and terminal buds of host plants. Heavy infestations can result in various types of damage to plants including deformed leaves, wilting and yellowing, stunted plant growth, leaf curling and leaf drop, and reduced dry matter production. Secretion of honeydew can cause secondary fungal growth, which inhibits photosynthesis and can decrease plant growth. Pea aphids can also transmit several important plant viruses including cucumber mosaic virus, bean yellow mosaic virus, alfalfa mosaic virus and pea seed-borne mosaic virus.

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