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Published on June 26th, 2013 | by Guest Contributor


How to Combat Aphids

Green Living Ideas is happy to welcome our newest writer, Jami Scholl. Jami is a Life Coach for WellBeing with a passion for creating beautiful permaculture gardens and food abundant communities. She is co-developing the area of PermaCoaching, and has experience in the areas where food, health and politics meet. She is an all-around creative, hiker, and a mom gifted with the superpower to to create beautiful solutions. Follow her on Twitter @jamischoll, on Facebook, and on GoodVeg’s A Subversive Plot. Check out her previous posts here.

Aphids suck! Sap that is, from your gorgeous plants. Distorted leaves that drop and sticky honeydew are tell-tale signs that you’ve aphids. A smudge of black is mold from the honeydew, and ants may show up for a nice little feast. Before ants and disease show-up, here are some suggestions for how to get rid of those little buggers!

EEK! The aphids are eating your collards...what to do?

EEK! The aphids are eating your collards…what to do?

  1. Wash your plants with a strong spray of water. Although blasting your plants may bruise them when they are tender and young, when they are older spraying forcefully with the garden hose will not hurt them.
  2. Use a barrier such as a floating row cover (it’s similar to a landscaping fabric, although thin and white and allows water and sunlight to pass through).
  3. Apply a hot-pepper or garlic repellent spray. This can be made with actually hot peppers and garlic steeping in water for a few days and then strained to be sprayed with a hand spritz bottle.
  4. Encourage native predators, such as lady bugs and lace wings. You can do this by creating habit, plants that provide food for all life stages of an insects life and an appropriate water source. Each insect will have different needs, so to match the habitat to the insect will be necessary.
  5. Apply horticultural oil. This, like the hot-pepper or garlic spray, can be applied with a hand sprayer.
  6. Use diluted soap (not detergent, something natural like Dr. Bronners) to spray on the plants. This, too, can be applied with a hand sprayer.
  7. Insecticidal soap spray: If you’ve not yet found value in investing in a good sprayer, you will in the next entry.
  8. Spray on neem oil. Are you convinced yet that you are ready to purchase a sprayer? A sprayer that has an adjustable nozzle will allow you to adjust the spray from a wide application to a directed stream.
  9. Yellow cards covered with Vaseline or another sticky substance placed near the plants and not too high off the ground. A yellow cardboard or paperboard may be salvaged, poke a small hole towards the top, smear with vaseline or the natural equivalent, then hang on a small metal stake. This sort of stake could be purchased, or can be recycled from a heavier metal clothes hanger. Place this at the level the insects are on the plants. Make sure it is stable in the ground!
  10. Interplant with dark colored marigolds (yellow attracts aphids), alyssum, daisy, dill, onion or garlic. Interplanting is just as it sounds… placing these plants between your vegetables to confuse as many insects as possible!

Be careful with harsh spraying of the plants. And if they are located in a garden rather than a pot, it is less likely that the spray will knock them off. If you do, then they rarely get back on the plant. The insect reproduces quickly, so expect a new generation about every week or so.

Although companion planting has its cheerleaders and naysayers, there is a near universal consensus that marigolds are deterrents for nearly all insect pests. Although there is not credible research focused on the color of marigolds, but as recommended, I’d stay clear of the yellow varieties since the color yellow attracts aphids. Onions and garlic are also universal in their deterrent capabilities, although may be alleopathic (hinder the growth) of beans of all types.

Organic, or a natural way of gardening, takes into consideration the life stage of the insect and what widespread application does to the greater environment. This form of gardening also does not destroy every insect pest. Why? If we are to kill every “bad” insect then the good ones will have no reason to stick around since their food source is gone. Use these methods judiciously, both to find which works best and also be gentle with your plants.

Collards image Shutterstock/ Naaman Abreu; Bug image Shutterstock/ Henrik Larsson

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