My battle with pests continues. When I thought the cabbage worms on the kale have been eradicated, I found another colony of insurgents on the underside of the Napa cabbage leaves -- Aphids! What looked like soil particles are pests sucking the life out of my plants. Aphids are very tiny insects but they are not to be taken for granted because of their ability multiply at an alarming rate.
Aphids are parthenogenetic. They have the ability to reproduce asexually. They can reproduce without mating - giving birth to multiple live offspring in a day (1). Not all of theme have wings but they have some allies - the ants - that can move them from one place to another better place.
So what do you do when you find out that your young plants are infested with aphids? When it comes to my kitchen garden I resist the temptation to spray anything store-bought for as long as possible. In other words, pesticides are my last recourse. At the first sign of infestation, aphid colonies can be easily disrupted by spraying them off with water. Repeat daily until they are gone maybe about three to four days depending on how severe the infestation. If you think they are beyond water-treatment, I would use Neem Oil or other plant-based pesticides.
In addition to this, there are also beneficial insects that are naturally around your garden such as ladybugs (Coccinella septempunctata) and lacewings (Chrysoperla rufilabris). To increase their population in your garden you can buy them from your local nursery and let them out where the problem is most severe.
After all the secret is not in the toxicity level of the pesticide but the conscientiousness of the gardener in regularly inspecting the garden. When the problem is caught early, it is manageable.
Stroll in your garden.
It is good for you and your plants. :)
1 Integrated Pest Management (UC)