Controlling aphids in the garden, without the use 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 common. Aphids attach themselves to the area of the plant where new growth appears. They reproduce quickly and are voracious feeders. Aphids suck liquid from the plant, dehydrating it and eventually destroying it. Their waste is a sticky shiny residue called honey dew.
Ants in the garden are attracted to the honey dew and will actually 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 discovered these garden pests can be controlled. Controlling aphids is not always as simple as it might seem. One method for removing 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 mixture 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 find 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 also 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 nearly 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.
Pest Control in Gardens
Common garden pests include insects, rabbits, birds, slugs and snails. While some creatures are beneficial to gardens—such as toads and ladybugs, who eat aphids and other pests—most are unwelcome. The following tips and techniques can help keep vegetable gardens pest-free.
Keeping Pests Out
There are many ways to keep common garden pests from being able to reach young plants at all. Plastic bottles and netting can be used to keep slugs, snails, and birds at bay. Wire netting, or wire cages, are always a good idea if rabbits are a problem. Horticultural fleece can be used to deter carrot flies. Rubber snakes and inflatable owls offer an easy way to scare birds and small herbivores from snacking on young plants.
Healthy Plants are Less Susceptible to Pests
Keep plants healthy by watering frequently, maintaining rich, well-drained soil, and feeding plants often. Encouraging beneficial garden creatures can help, too, since they will feed on harmful insects. Toads, ladybugs, and praying mantises will feed on aphids, beetles, and other pests, creating a natural balance in the garden. These creatures can be purchased online for gardening purposes.
Organic Pest Control
There are many effective methods of organic pest control. Interplanting is a good way to place mutually beneficial plants together in an effort to confuse pests. Insecticidal soaps are economic and safe, and are effective against many different kinds of insects. Garlic-based insecticides are highly effective, since garlic is a natural insect repellent. Organic pest control offers a nice alternative to chemical pesticides.
Prevention is the Key
Interplanting is an easy way to confuse pests. For example, basil distracts bugs away from tomatoes and sage deters carrot flies and cabbage moths. Marigolds should be planted throughout the garden, since they emit a scent that repels insects. Try spraying seedlings with organic repellents made of hot pepper spray or animal urine upon planting to deter pests. Taking these steps will greatly aid pest control and guarantee a healthy harvest.
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