alpine flowers at Grey Rock

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


Question came in about how to deal with aphids. The good news is you have plenty of nitrogen in your soil, so your plants attract aphids. The bad news is, you don't want to eat the bugs. So, here are a few options for dealing with aphids... A triage for any pest that you can do first is spray cold water. Most pests hate it and it is something you can do without any special equpiment or purchase. You can wash off quite a few and slow down there success rate. There are various soaps for dealing with them such as Safer's which you use to wash them off the leaves and the soap actually melts their soft bodies. Sometimes the soap is too strong for certain plants, so you must be careful. You can use diatomaceous earth, D.E., which pokes holes in their bodies and dries them up, but also is all over your herbs you'd like to use, so not the best case scenario there, but handy for other instances. You can spray with an insecticidal oil like Neem which smothers them and prevents future inhabitants, but must be reapplied every week or so to prevent more from coming. Neem will not hurt you or beneficial bugs, but needs to be washed off before using herbs or everything will taste like Neem! You could spray with Pyganic, a pyrethrum(African Daisy) based pesticide, if you are heavily infested. Spray soil, too. This will kill EVERYBODY, spiders, bees, and other beneficials it touches, so not to be taken lightly. The most fun way to deal with aphids is with ladybugs. They are available at many garden centers or through catalogs like "Bugs Alive!" Let go of a few at a time and let them devour the soft bodied pests in your area. After they eat everything there, they move off to better feeding grounds, so wait a week and let go of some more, especially after a watering as they come out of dormancy(you keep them in the refrigerator) hungry and thristy. Hope this helps. Aphids are worst in spring and fall and not as much of a problem in hot, dry times.

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