I feel like I owe so many of you an apology….I’ve gotten so busy with too many projects…and time in my garden that I’ve let this series slide.
This Master Gardening Series: Nasty Aphids.
It was very hot here for two days in a row and I wandered outside to water some containers.
One of the containers is right in front of some of my Helianthus (perennial sunflower).
Did Ya Know….
Perennial sunflower is a crop of sunflowers that are developed by crossing wild perennial and domestic annual sunflower species.
Back to where I was…as I was watering the container when I noticed something odd on the Helianthus.
What is that….so I looked closer…
oh my….I looked even closer…
There were hundreds of them, on all sides, everywhere. I was surprised to see them, but really surprise since sunflowers are such a tough plant.
What are Aphids?
Aphids can be green or red and are know as plant lice.
Aphids reproduce like there’s no tomorrow. Female aphids can reproduce without mating, giving birth continuously to live nymphs. Nymphs mature in 1 to 2 weeks and start producing offspring themselves. As fall approaches both males and females are born. They mate, and then females lay eggs on stems or in bark crevices. The eggs overwinter and hatch the following spring.
Why are the Aphids There?
The aphids (or any “pest” insect) attacks the plant because the plant is in stress for one reason or another. This is nature’s way of taking out the weak (survival of the fittest). Stress to the plant cause it. Severely infested leaves and flowers may drop. As they feed, aphids excrete a sweet, sticky honeydew onto the leaves below. This allows a sooty mold to grow, which, in addition to being ugly to look at, blocks light from leaves.
It has been raining a lot here in IL, so I’m think this is putting the sunflowers under stress, this area as also fill in so so “overcrowding” could be a culprit by lack of air movement.
How Can I Get Rid of Aphids?
You can get rid of them instantly, just get your water hose and spray them with a good strong stream of water. Their mouths are embedded in the plant so it rips their bodies right off their heads. I know gruesome, but efficient.
You can also treat with a natural All Purpose Insect Pest Spray or you can purchase one from garden center.
Natural All Purpose Insect Pest Spray
The ingredients can cause painful skin and eye irritation. When preparing and applying, wear rubber gloves and keep the mixture well away from your eyes and nose.
How to Use
Chop, grind, or liquefy one garlic bulb and one small onion.
Add 1 teaspoon of powdered cayenne pepper and mix with 1 quart of water.
Steep 1 hour, strain through cheesecloth, then add 1 tablespoon of liquid dish soap to the strained liquid; mix well.
Spray your plants thoroughly, including leaf undersides.
Store the mixture for up to 1 week in a labeled, covered container in the refrigerator.