Thursday, June 18, 2009

Ants, Aphids and The Ladybug

I dont know how aphids always find their way to my plants. The new leaves on beans were all dotted with black spots which were aphids happily sucking the sap. Well this time they are black in color. My tomato leaves have red and green aphids and the coriander leaves have only green aphids (clever camouflage).

Black aphids on spinach blossoms

Aphids are plump creatures, sizes ranging between poppy and mustard seeds. Obviously with all the sap sucking, they will grow bigger(size of a small mosquito) and have wings. These winged aphids will try to play tag with you, leaf hopping but you ultimately can crush them. These aphids seem to be infesting both potted plants and those that are on the ground.

My best way to "crush" these plump pests is literally to crush them between my fingers. So I run the leaf (with aphids feasting on the back of the leaves) between my thumb and index finger, and crush the juice out these pests. Sweet revenge. Your finger may turn green, red or black depending on the color of the aphids. Just wash your hand and job well done. Sometimes I make a soap solution with dish washing liquid and spray away.

Now this time the issue was more with ants adding to the problem, ants emerging from different points on my plot. Then I saw ants on the leaves infested with the black aphids. Now I didn't know for sure if these black spot-like things were aphids, ant eggs or ant droppings. Until I read this post. So what was shrivelling the new leaves on my bean plants was definitely aphids fiercely guarded by ants. What a symbiosis. So I decided to deal with the ants first after reading ( and laughing) this. This post is really informative, instills confidence that you are back in the battle again and you can win.

So I made a stinky garlic-chili powder spray (1 cup hot, not boiling, water + 2 crushed garlic cloves + 1 Tbl spoon cayenne powder. Let this solution steep for 2-3 days. Ready to spray). The ants I think didnt seem to like the heat of the chili powder but came back after a few days. And the rain seemed to dilute and wash away this spray. So the whole aphid-ant marriage was going strong again. Until I spotted a ladybug yesterday on an aphid infested spinach flower. (Yeah the spinach bolted inspite of the cooler weather here in CT).

Look who is having a party? Beautiful Ladybug

I found the other spinach flowers, the new bean leaves were clean and green again with all the aphids gone just like magic. Thanks to the beautiful ladybug, the aphids are gone for now. Hail the ladybug. . But the ants are still there and I think the aphids will be back again. Dont worry, the ladybugs are here. And the witch is here too, busy brewing more soap and stinky garlic-pepper potions for you my dear aphids and ants.

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