Friday, March 26, 2010

Aphids

Aphids on Chives

Spring is here...even aphids are having a blast in the garden.  They have infested my chives and some of my roses.  The problem with aphids is that they reproduce so quickly.  With the mild climate of California, aphids can reproduce asexually through parthenogenesis (females can have offspring even without males) even faster. 

It is important to keep checking your plants for infestation - twice a week would be a good idea.  It is difficult to get rid of them once the population gets high. They cause the leaves to curl and then use these damaged-leaves as hiding places.   When you observe a trail of ants climbing onto your plants, it is likely that they are tending some aphids somewhere.   Ants eat the honeydew that aphids excrete. 
To get rid of aphids, spray them off with water.  They can drown easily.  If your plants are delicate, hand spray them with a mixture of one pint of water and 1-2 tsp of dishwashing liquid detergent.  Repeat as necessary.

To learn more about aphids, the UC Davis IPM Online provides a good resource.

Gardening is not all beds of roses.  Challenges present themselves from time to time in different forms.  As a gardener keep your eyes open to recognize your enemies before they damage your plants.

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