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Sunday, July 21, 2024 at 1:07 PM

Edith on Aphids and Better Car Care

Edith on Aphids and Better Car Care
by Edith Isidoro-Mills —  Does your car look like someone sprayed something sticky on it?  I’ll bet you park your car in the shade of a tree and the tree may have aphids.To confirm that a tree, or any plant, has aphids look closely at the leaves, soft vegetative stems, and flowers.  If the tree has aphids you will find six legged, soft-bodied insects ranging in color from green to yellow, or brown.  The body is pear shaped and some aphids have wings.  The sticky spots on your car and coating on some of the leaves is honeydew which is excess sugar the aphid has sucked out of the plants and is excreting through its anus.  Small numbers of aphids in balance with predator insects such as lacewings or lady bugs won’t kill your plants. However, if the leaves are coated with honeydew or misshapen and your car has sticky spots the aphid population is out of balance and requires intervention.Aphids not only drain the sap out of plants but they can also be carriers of various plant diseases such as viruses and bacteria.  In vegetable plants, such as squash or tomatoes, it is best to just dispose of the plant if you notice a diseased plant because insects that land on it and feed from that plant will only pass these diseases on to other plants in your garden.Reduction of aphid populations, as it is impossible eradicate them, can be achieved through several means; spraying or feeding plants with chemicals that kill aphids, spraying organic compounds that kill aphids, or introducing predator insects such as ladybugs or lacewings.  Feeding plants with chemicals usually involves a systemic insecticide that is carried through the vascular system of the plant.  Do not us a systemic insecticide on any plant that bears fruit, leaves or stems that you plan to eat because it can make you very sick and may kill you.  Instead try an organic method such as soap.  Researchers have found soap to be more effective in killing aphids than chemicals.  To kill aphids the soap must come in contact with the aphid.  Soap kills the aphid by plugging up its spiracle thus suffocating it.The third method, introducing predators may be more ecologically sound but is not as quick as spraying.  Predators can be purchased through mail order catalogs such as “Gardens Alive” or “Peaceful Valley Farm Supply”.  Having insects shipped to you can be tricky.  Find out when they will be shipped and what time of day they will be shipped so you can plan to be there when they arrived.  Mailboxes on a sunny day can be deadly for insects.  Sometimes local garden centers get insects in but be cautious and ask how long they have had the insects or if they don’t currently have them in ask when a shipment will arrive so you can get them as quickly as possible without them sitting in storage too long.The best way to control aphids long term is by reduction the spraying of insecticides that not only kill aphids but also the predators that feed on them.  As I mentioned above, it is impossible to eradicate aphids but not impossible to control their populations.  The best control is to maintain healthy populations of predator insects that feed on aphids.  Among the insects you want to encourage in your garden are lady bugs, lacewings, minute pirate bugs, syrphid flies, big eyed bugs, and damsel bugs. You will still see a few aphids but their numbers won’t be nearly as damaging.  Consider the few aphids you find as feed to keep the predators around.       Never miss the local news — read more on The Fallon Post home page. If you enjoy The Fallon Post, please support our effort to provide local, independent news and make a contribution today.  Your contribution makes possible this online news source for all things Fallon.  


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