I made a rookie mistake this past winter when I brought in several plants into the house to overwinter them: I didn't rid them of pests first. OK, lesson learned. Unfortunately, it's too early to put them back outside without killing them. So I'm stuck with damage control.
My boyfriend and I disagree on what is infesting my plants. I have no doubt that the wingless little buggers (yes, I punned) in the attached picture are aphids. He agrees. But I've read that there are flying species of aphids. I think that is what I have. He thinks that I have two separate species: the aphids and a harmless black fly.
Any thoughts? If you can identify my pests, can you suggest a way to get rid of them. I've tried pyrethrin and soapy water. I also have yellow sticky traps up to get some of them. I'm cloning my fuchsias and starting many new plants from seed. They're very vulnerable and I'm in a take no prisoners mood. I'd like to avoid harsh chemicals since these plants are in my home.
The first ones look like aphids, the second ones are something different...whether they're harmless or not is still a question though. How big are the flies? If they're very tiny then maybe they're fungus gnats? I've never looked at one up close like that so I don't know if that's what they would look like or not. Here are some pics so you can compare--to me they look like they could be similar but I'm certainly no expert. http://images.google.com/images?hl=en&source=hp&q=fungus+gnat&gbv=2&aq=f&oq=&aqi=g2
For the aphids, soap & pyrethrin should both work. The trick is you need to keep after them--they reproduce at the speed of light, so if you miss even one and then stop treatment for a while, they'll be right back as bad as they were before. So you need to keep after them and repeat the treatment.
For the fungus gnats (if that's what they are), there are a few things to do:
1) yellow sticky traps are great for catching the adults (by the way, the adults don't eat plants...but the larvae in the soil can chew on roots)
2) for the larvae, pick up som Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis). It's sold as mosquito dunks and a product called Gnatrol. Use it when you water and it'll take care of the larvae in the soil.
3) watch your watering. Fungus gnats thrive in moist soil, so many times if you have them you're keeping the plants a little too wet, and backing off on the watering can help prevent them from coming back again.
There are some other tricks for the gnats too, if you decide that's what they are I'm sure some other people will be along with some other suggestions for you.