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Controlling Aphids in the Garden Without Pesticides

Thursday, June 10th, 2010
Group of Aphids

Image via Wikipedia

Controlling aphids in the garden, without the utilize of pesticides or powders and chemical sprays that kill the insect but leave unhealthy chemical residue behind, has gardeners jumping on the “green” bandwagon.

What Are Aphids

Aphids are small pear-shaped insects that come in a variety of colors, with green and black being the most ordinary. Aphids attach themselves to the area of the plant where new growth appears. They regenerate quickly and are voracious feeders. Aphids suck liquid from the plant, dehydrating it and eventually killing it. Their waste is a sticky shiny residue called honey dew.

Ants in the garden are attracted to the honey dew and will really take aphids as pets. Once they have the aphids securely settled in their ant colony, the ants cut new growth from nearby plants and bring it to the aphids. By feeding the aphids the ants are able to maintain a steady supply of honey dew.

Controlling Aphids in the Garden

Aphids especially love certain plants and can overrun a garden in a single weekend. But once acknowledged these garden pests can be controlled. Controlling aphids is not always as simple as it might seem. One method for removal these garden pests is a soapy spray. The soap washes off the protective waxy coating found on aphids. Without that coating this garden pest will dry out and die. To make the spray, mix one part hand soap to 100 parts water.

Most garden pests can be controlled when the plants are sprayed with the combination twice a week and again after each rain. The little bit of soap won’t harm the plants, and most other garden pests will not like the taste and will move to an area where they can discover a more delectable dinner.

While container gardens are relatively easy to handle and even easier to keep free of pests, an infestation of aphids can even occur from time to time on a patio or on the back steps. Insects don’t concern themselves with propriety, they simply want an easy meal. But either in the garden or in a container garden, controlling aphids is best done without commercial chemical pesticides. Vigilance and a good bottle of soap generally will do the trick.

Aphids can as well be washed off the plant with a vigorous hosing down. Be careful, however, that the plants are not damaged by the spray.

Organic Insect Control

Aphids suck the life out of flower plants and vegetable plants, causing the leaves to curl up and flower buds to remain hard and unfurled. The pear-shaped aphid will infest ntimely any type of plant but is particularly attracted to yellow flowers. Place a shallow yellow container in the garden with about an inch of water in it. This type of organic insect control relies on outsmarting the aphids. Aphids will be drawn to the color and jump into the container and drown. All the gardener needs to do is to make sure there is always water in the container.

Another organic insect control measure is to crush a few of the aphids on the plant or sprinkle the remains around the base of the plant. Other aphids will be deterred by the scent. And remember that ants and aphids go hand in hand. Ants will even move their pet aphids from one plant to the next, thereby creating more damage. To keep ants away try sprinkling baby powder, cornstarch or cinnamon around the base of the plant.

Organic Gardening Products

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Striped Cucumber Beetle

Saturday, May 8th, 2010

Striped Cucumber Beetle

Common names: Striped Cucumber Beetle

Scientific name: Acalymma vittata

Region: This beetle can be found in the eastern portion of North America.

Life cycle: The Adult beetle overwinters in plant debris.  Only one generation is produced by beetles in the North, while in the south two to four generations are common.

Physical Description: The adults are distinguished by the pale yellow to orange wing covers with three longitudinal stripes and black head.  It grows to a 1/4 inch length.

Feeding characteristics: The adults chew on leaves and flowers and carry Bacterial Wilt and cucumber mosaic, while the larvae feed on stems and roots.

Controls: Nature provides a lot of control in the form of natural predators, such as, Soldier Beetles, Tachinid Flies, Braconid Wasps and parasitical nematodes.  However, you can also try covering your plants with cheesecloth, or infestations that are more serious, dust or spray with insecticides.

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Spotted Grapevine Beetle

Friday, May 7th, 2010

Spotted Grapevine Beetle

Common names: Spotted Grapevine Beetle, Spotted pelidnota, Spotted June beetle

Scientific name: Pelidnota punctata

Region: This Caterpillar is found throughout North America.

Life cycle: This insect produces one generation each year and hibernates as a mature larva.  Its only in the adult stage for two months.

Physical Description: This 1” long, light brown, shiny beetle has 6 black spots on the wings.  The larva is a large white grubs that prefer well-rotted wood matter.

Feeding characteristics: The adults feed on grape leaves and, if numerous, may cautilize damage.

Controls: If the number of infested plants is small, hand pick the insects.

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