Health for humans, animals & plants

Aphids as vectors of plant viruses

Aphids not only damage plants through their sucking activity, they can also transmit viral diseases.

There are about 800 different aphid species in Central Europe alone. Their sucking activity can cause yellowing, crippling and growth retardation. The honeydew excretions of aphids can stick to the crop and are the ideal substrate for blackening fungi. Due to weather, aphids often appear in waves: They dislike rain and heat, but heat and drought even more. Ants favor the spread of aphids because they protect them from enemies and spread them. They overwinter either in the larval stage, as adults, or as winter eggs. The milder the winters, the more adult aphids survive.

Almost all ornamental and vegetable plants can be infested by aphids. To detect infestation in time, especially the undersides of leaves, shoot tips and flowers must be checked.

Great importance lies mainly in their role as vectors of plant viruses, such as nanoviruses. Nanoviruses were first known in warmer areas such as North and East Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and Australia. There, they cause massive yield losses in various legumes such as field beans, lentils or chickpeas at regular intervals. In 2010, they were detected for the first time in Austria, and in 2016 and 2018, there were already massive failures in green pea, grain pea, winter grain pea, field bean and winter lentil.


  • Well-maintained plants suffer less from aphid infestation than plants lacking water and nutrients
  • Remove weeds, as they are an ideal food source for aphids
  • Cut out and destroy aphid colonies if the infestation is not too severe to prevent the damage from spreading. Glue rings on the trunks and supports prevent ants from migrating upwards
  • In the garden, plants at risk should be sown or planted in locations open to the wind. This will reduce initial infestations by flying aphids
  • Survey for naturally occurring counterparts: ladybugs, lacewings, hoverflies, ichneumon or gall flies, spiders, ground beetles, predatory bugs, birds. If these beneficial insects are present, further measures are usually unnecessary.
  • When using plant protection products approved in Austria, make sure that beneficial aphid predators and parasites are not harmed.


From the beginning of March to the end of June, we again offer monitoring of the most important nanovirus vectors in legumes, the green pea aphid(Acyrthosiphon pisum), the black bean aphid(Aphis fabae) and the green peach aphid(Myzus persicae), including nanovirus detection in aphids, in cooperation with the Austrian Chambers of Agriculture.

Warning Service


In our NANOVIR project, we detected different legumes as host plants for the virus and developed strategies against the virus in organic field bean.

In the SPITFIRE project, we are studying different pea varieties to identify resistant pea varieties and make them available to agriculture.

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