Privet aphid

Privet aphid can cause leaf curling and distortion on privet hedges.

Privet aphid ( Myzus ligustri ) on Privet (Ligustrum)

Privet aphid (Myzus ligustri) on Privet (Ligustrum)

Quick facts

Common name Privet aphid
Latin name Myzus ligustri
Plants affected Privet (Ligustrum)
Main symptoms Leaf curling and distortion
Caused by Sap-sucking aphids at shoot tips
Timing Spring-summer

What is privet aphid?

Aphids, also known as greenfly and blackfly, are sap-sucking insects. The privet aphid is a small (1.5mm) greenish yellow aphid that only feeds on privet (Ligustrum).

Symptoms

Privet aphid is active during the spring and early summer, when its sap-feeding activities cause the leaves to yellow and curl. In severe attacks, the damaged leaves may dry up and drop off. Plants usually make a recovery later in the summer when the aphids are no longer active on the plant.

Control

While the damage privet aphid causes can be unsightly, plants normally recover and may not be infested every year and so control is often unnecessary.  

Non-pesticide control

Aphids have many predaors, including ladybirds, hoverfly larvae, lacewing larvae and parasitic wasps. Unfortunately, out of doors, damaging aphid infestations often build up before the natural enemies are active in sufficient numbers to achieve control. Pest control products based on natural compounds or with a physical mode of action are less likely to have serious effect on natural predators.

Pesticide control

  • Organic sprays, such as natural pyrethrum (e.g. Bug Clear Gun for Fruit & Veg, Ecofective Bug Killer), fatty acids (e.g. Solabiol Bug Free, Doff Greenfly & Blackfly Killer) or plant oils (e.g. Vitax Organic Pest & Disease Control, Bug Clear for Fruit and Veg) can give good control of aphids. These pesticides have a very short persistence and so may require reapplication to keep aphid numbers in check. Plant oil and fatty acid products are less likely to affect larger insects such as ladybird adults
  • More persistent insecticides include the synthetic pyrethroids lambda-cyhalothrin (e.g. Westland Resolva Pest Killer), deltamethrin (e.g. Provanto Ultimate Fruit & Vegetable Bug Killer) and cypermethrin (e.g. Py Bug Killer)
  • The systemic neonicotinoid insecticide acetamiprid (e.g. Bug Clear Ultra) is also available
  • Follow label instructions when using pesticides
  • Plants in flower should not be sprayed due the danger to pollinating insects
  • Inclusion of a pesticide product does not indicate a recommendation or endorsement by the RHS. It is a list of products currently available to the home gardener

Downloads

Pesticides for gardeners  (Adobe Acrobat pdf document outlining pesticides available to gardeners)

Biology

Privet aphid, Myzus ligustri is found throughout the year on privet (Ligustrum species). Sexual forms are produced in November and lay eggs. The eggs hatch in spring and colonies devlop on the leaves, reaching a peak in midsummer.


Gardeners' calendar

Advice from the RHS

Find out what to do this month with our gardeners' calendar

Advice from the RHS

Did you find the advice you needed?

RHS members can get exclusive individual advice from the RHS Gardening Advice team.

Join the RHS now

Get involved

The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.