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Organic Gardening: Aphids are winning!

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Forum: Organic GardeningReplies: 35, Views: 260
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happygirl345
Pleasant Hill, CA
(Zone 9b)

June 4, 2011
8:04 AM

Post #8608091

Help!

I've tried squirting them with water... I've tried banana peels, banana peel tea, squishing them with my thumb...

What am I missing?

Thumbnail by happygirl345
Click the image for an enlarged view.

drthor

drthor
Irving, TX
(Zone 8a)

June 4, 2011
8:08 AM

Post #8608099

Here what I normally do: I leave them alone and soon the LADY BUGS arrive.
Seriously ... andI they'd mate all day long and soon I have lots of babies lady bugs that eat the aphids.
If you keep removing the aphids, the lady bugs will never come.

Good luck
ecrane3
Dublin, CA
(Zone 9a)

June 4, 2011
8:20 AM

Post #8608121

If you want to try to get rid of them, the key is to keep after them. No matter what you do, if you do it once and then wait a while they'll be back because you always miss one or two and they reproduce at the speed of light. I typically just hose them off of my plants, but I'll do it every day or two for a while. Milkweed aphids are persistent and I haven't had as much luck getting rid of them even if I keep after them every day, but all the other aphids I've been able to control them that way. You can also use insecticidal soap if just hosing them off isn't doing enough. Even with it though you need to keep after them.
happygirl345
Pleasant Hill, CA
(Zone 9b)

June 4, 2011
8:59 AM

Post #8608181

Forgot to mention... I tried lady bugs -- for some reason, they just walk right by the aphids. (and I BOUGHT the lady bugs!).

How much soap should I put in the water? I tried 1 tsp in about a quart... useless.

How would I recognize them as milkweed aphids?

On peas I have green aphids, on brassicas (mostly cabbage, but also broccoli and cauliflower), I have white aphids. The green ones fall off very easily when squirted, but they are back later in the day. The white ones require a firehose to get them off... and they are actually killing plants.

I'm so frustrated... I wonder if it is so much worse this year because our weather has been so cool?

Grrrr...
BLKS
San Francisco, CA

June 4, 2011
9:46 AM

Post #8608264

Have you tried Neem or Pyrethrins?
MajiA
Kenner, LA

June 4, 2011
9:53 AM

Post #8608275

Usually I will mix a tbsp of Neem oil in a tbsp of Dawn dishwasher per gallon of water and spray it thoroughly. I sometimes will add Fish Emulsion in the prescribed dosage with it for some foliar feeding at the same time. Please make sure you do it just before sunset, otherwise you will burn the leaves or injure them. I have been there and done that.

I have bought ladybugs and they do take care of the aphids. It does not mean that ladybugs will just go on and grab every aphid there is. It is biologic control, so it is not perfect but as close as you can get to natural balance, which is really perfection in itself.

Have a great weekend.
ecrane3
Dublin, CA
(Zone 9a)

June 4, 2011
9:53 AM

Post #8608276

The milkweed aphids are orange and only bother plants in the milkweed family so that's definitely not what you have on your peas, broccoli, etc. As far as the soap--I prefer to buy insecticidal soap vs trying to make my own--that way I know the concentration is right. Your tablespoon in a quart is may not be enough, plus dish "soaps" don't actually have real soap in them--they are synthetic detergents and I'm not sure those are as effective as real soap would be. I haven't found the insecticidal soap to be any more effective than the hose in controlling the aphids, but if you have fragile plants that can't take a strong blast from the hose then it's a good option.

As far as why they're worse this year--I've had no luck predicting which years are going to be worse. I'm not having problems with them up here this year, but I have had issues in other years. This year even though it's been cool and wetter than usual I've been having some spider mite problems which I haven't had issues with in hotter drier years. Go figure!
BLKS
San Francisco, CA

June 4, 2011
11:16 AM

Post #8608419

Yes, a multi-approach seems best. Also I know that over-fertilizing can lead to more aphids because of too much lush growth. Another thing I would try, and I know this sounds strange, is to let your plants dry out slightly (if the rain quits!). Just enought to cause a little bit of stress to the plants. This increases plants' natural resistance to insects and diseases. In some studies this reduces the amount of insect (aphid) damage to the plants and the plants are actually hardier and healthier. Natural resistance is so important in plants health and performance.
ecrane3
Dublin, CA
(Zone 9a)

June 4, 2011
12:20 PM

Post #8608534

Maybe that's why I don't usually have too much trouble with them--my garden is pretty much xeriscape and I'm very stingy with the water. When I do get aphids it's typically on my container plants which get a little more TLC.

HoneybeeNC

HoneybeeNC
Charlotte, NC
(Zone 7b)

June 5, 2011
7:47 AM

Post #8610248

It seems to be a bad year for aphids.

You might have pea aphids:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pea_aphid

I sprayed my peas with liquid kelp mixed with water and the aphids died! The stuff stinks, but it didn't make the peas taste bad.
happygirl345
Pleasant Hill, CA
(Zone 9b)

June 5, 2011
1:55 PM

Post #8610971


That's the little bugger... Thanks for the link!

I will try kelp. What is the ratio to water?

Thanks!
BLKS
San Francisco, CA

June 6, 2011
8:45 AM

Post #8612608

Hi ecrane3

Very interesting about your xeriscape garden having few aphids. How about other insect and disease problems? Are they reduced too do you think? I believe that over-watering and over-fertilizing does contribute to these types of problems.

HoneybeeNC

HoneybeeNC
Charlotte, NC
(Zone 7b)

June 6, 2011
9:23 AM

Post #8612695

happygirl345 - I guessed at the ratio - but the container should give you an idea. I put in a little more of the liquid kelp than the directions said because I wanted to make it stick to the aphids.
ecrane3
Dublin, CA
(Zone 9a)

June 6, 2011
7:33 PM

Post #8614148

I honestly have very few insect pest problems (knock on wood), and the problems I do have tend to be on my container plants and I have more of those in the winter when everything's crammed together in the greenhouse. In the 5 yrs I've been in this house, I had scale on my Cestrum one year, milkweed aphids on my Tweedia a few times (but they don't bother anything else), and just the other day I found spider mites on my Buddleias (I have no idea why--it's been cold and wet lately which are not their usual conditions!)

I have never yet had to spray an insecticide of any sort in the garden beds--I've just used the hose to knock things off (the scale I also removed some by hand). I never fertilize my garden beds and don't water much. The only problem I really have is gophers and the occasional vole, which unfortunately kill a lot more plants than the bugs would!
happygirl345
Pleasant Hill, CA
(Zone 9b)

June 7, 2011
8:39 AM

Post #8615311

I've reduced myself to insecticial soap (organic)...

It's just a hot mess.

Luckily, I am able to harvest (the crop is just beginning).

And I had sent out the word that I was collecting banana peels -- my sister's first grade class made a project out of it! So, now I have about 4 pounds of banana peels... I think I will dry them out and powder them... all the google research swears it will work...
BLKS
San Francisco, CA

June 9, 2011
1:08 PM

Post #8620477

Yes, over-fertilizing also seems to lead to more insects and disease problems too, especially the chemical fertilizers and nitrogen that lead to excess vegetative growth.
happygirl345
Pleasant Hill, CA
(Zone 9b)

June 10, 2011
8:23 AM

Post #8622085

Over fertilizing would be a first for me... I forget pretty consistently. (There is an irony in that, I think!)...

The lady bug population is growing like crazy, so that's helping.

Next problem: I have these little itty bitty teeny tiny white flies... I thought it was dust at first, but no... they are bugs. I think they are also sap suckers... any suggestions on those?
ecrane3
Dublin, CA
(Zone 9a)

June 10, 2011
10:55 AM

Post #8622303

If they're whitefly, try worm castings--work some into the soil around the base of your plants, or make a tea out of it and spray it on the plant (or even better, do both). I've never had whitefly problems, but I've seen people swear by worm castings for taking care of them.
happygirl345
Pleasant Hill, CA
(Zone 9b)

June 10, 2011
11:35 AM

Post #8622337

Think I can buy worm castings at Navlet's?
ecrane3
Dublin, CA
(Zone 9a)

June 10, 2011
4:16 PM

Post #8622726

I'm not sure but it's worth looking. I can't remember if I've seen them there or not. I know there are places you can buy them online if you can't find them locally but it's worth calling around to some local places first. Orchard Nursery in Lafayette or Sloat in Danville would be two other places not too far from you that would be worth checking.
BLKS
San Francisco, CA

June 11, 2011
10:30 AM

Post #8624011

Let me know how the worm castings do with the white flies. I also hear that soapy water will work but that you have to be diligent about applying every few days because the soap only kills the adults. I have not had experience with white flies yet.

greenhouse_gal

greenhouse_gal
Southern NJ
United States
(Zone 7a)

June 17, 2011
3:45 AM

Post #8635614

What's the deal with banana peels? I've never heard that one before! I use them to fertilize my roses sometimes, but otherwise they just go to the chickens.
happygirl345
Pleasant Hill, CA
(Zone 9b)

June 17, 2011
8:58 AM

Post #8636267

I read online that banana peels are good for aphid control (on roses, too!)... but they were a bust. So, I have thousands of aphids, and hundred of banana peels.

Good thing the compost will like them!
SusanKC
Shawnee Mission, KS
(Zone 6a)

July 9, 2011
8:35 AM

Post #8681913

Small ants will go after the aphids also.
ecrane3
Dublin, CA
(Zone 9a)

July 9, 2011
8:38 AM

Post #8681918

The ants like the honeydew that the aphids secrete, they're not going after the aphids.
SusanKC
Shawnee Mission, KS
(Zone 6a)

July 10, 2011
12:05 PM

Post #8684192

ecrane - I googled it and you are right about the ants. Must have been something else that ate them because they are gone.

Soferdig
Kalispell, MT
(Zone 4b)

July 26, 2011
10:22 PM

Post #8717673

My proven and undesirable way to control aphids here in Montana and have proven the best and easiest way is ---------------HORNETS. My wife last year without me knowing it sprayed our V. creeper for white flies and killed almost all of them and this year I am aphid attacked for the first time in years. I always had the nests near the doors moved and let 25 to 50 nests to be active. We are stung once or twice a year but aphids were never a problem here. The wasp was friendly and unless attacked or bothered never bothered us. My wife is now a believer in my theory because aphids are thick this year and will only be eliminated with the gradually building colonies that are appearing. We only have 2 paperwasp and three yellowjackets so far. They are my friends with aphids, and any worm that crawls on plants.
Calalily
Deep South Coastal, TX
(Zone 10a)

July 27, 2011
6:07 AM

Post #8718056

Wasps love aphids and also scale insects. I had a pipevine completely covered with scale insects. The wasps moved in and made many meals of the scale and completely cleaned the vines. I've also seen them eating cabbage loopers and other caterpillar pests.
Aphids are bad here this year, we have a gazillion ladybugs, many wasps and other beneficials and they just can't keep up with the aphids. I don't overfertilize and we've had two rains since last October. We do irrigate the garden. It's been hotter than usual.
happygirl345
Pleasant Hill, CA
(Zone 9b)

July 27, 2011
2:41 PM

Post #8719214

Ahhh... here's to getting more wasp nests next year! We have two this year...
Soferdig
Kalispell, MT
(Zone 4b)

July 27, 2011
6:48 PM

Post #8719768

I move the ones at night when they are near a travel area. I have a 2nd story and that is where I hang them in cheeze cloth tacked to the roof. Paper wasps are easy to move and I just bundle up and put the nest in a bag and carry it to my desired location in branches of my swedish aspen.

greenhouse_gal

greenhouse_gal
Southern NJ
United States
(Zone 7a)

July 28, 2011
3:40 AM

Post #8720404

Then how do you rehang them? Not that I'm planning to do that - DH is allergic to vespid venom!
happygirl345
Pleasant Hill, CA
(Zone 9b)

July 28, 2011
10:06 AM

Post #8720970

Oh, I am loving this... anything to get the aphids I'm all for!
Soferdig
Kalispell, MT
(Zone 4b)

July 28, 2011
11:21 PM

Post #8722371

The aspen just hold them when you lay them in with a pulled out branch. Up in my over-hang I just place the nest in the cheeze cloth and Tack it to the wood. They eat through the cheeze cloth and exit in less than a few hours. Then they fix the nest the way they want it.
happygirl345
Pleasant Hill, CA
(Zone 9b)

August 2, 2011
3:24 PM

Post #8732505

Soferdig, just so I'm clear on how to move this nest...

at night (?), detach it from the eaves, put it in a cheesecloth. Move it to where I want it. Tack it up. Let the wasps eat through the cheese cloth.

Can it be that simple?

WoHoo!
Soferdig
Kalispell, MT
(Zone 4b)

August 2, 2011
9:02 PM

Post #8733418

Yes but know that they will immediately attack so put the cheese cloth around the nest and run with it so the returning wasps don't kill you. I grab the nest run about 30 to 50' and rubber band the top closed and put it in the limbs of my tree where I want it (somewhere untrafficked) then leave. If you are going to put it under an eave I have the nail placed so the cheese cloth can be punctured and hung there.

pollengarden

pollengarden
Pueblo, CO
(Zone 5b)

August 9, 2011
9:58 PM

Post #8747900

I found that cilantro/coriander plants attract a lot of tiny beneficial wasps when they are in bloom. Since they are short-lived, you have to succession sow. I first planted milkweed to attract butterflies, but it attracts aphids instead. That turned out to be a good thing - it keeps the ladybugs around.

Ladybugs walking right by the aphids: yes, that is what they do. But they lay eggs nearby and the larva eat the aphids.

Tiny white flies, too: might be more aphids. The first and last stage of aphids is a flying insect that doesn't look like the sap-sucking stages in between.

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