Like alien creatures from a 1950s B movie, aphids are attacking one of my apple trees and all of my grape vines. When I first saw them on my apple tree a few weeks ago, I sprayed them a couple of times with insecticidal soap. Because they weren’t great in number and I had seen a few lady bugs around, I didn’t worry about it much. It seems I should have!
SIGNS OF APHIDS
Yesterday, while weeding around the perimeter of the mulch under my apple trees, I noticed that the top of my Pink Lady apple tree was covered with aphids. (See the photo above.) Along with the aphids were a few tiny black ants. These ants feed off of the aphids’ excretion, which is called honeydew. They also protect the aphid colony against predators because it’s their food source.
My grape vines have been struggling nutritionally for quite some time now. They’re growing, but not as much as they should. Also, the leaves are not deep green but pale in color. I’m feeding them an organic, general garden fertilizer while trying to learn what they need specifically. Then yesterday, I discovered that they, too, are being attacked by aphids – which, I’m sure, is adding to the pallor on the tips because aphids suck the chlorophyll from leaves.
Well, I didn’t see the actual aphids on the grape vines, however. What I did see were dozens and dozens of those tiny black ants that feed off the aphids’ honeydew. Where there are ants like this, there are aphids – even if you don’t see them.
They’re on my red grape vine….
…and on my white grape vine….
…and on my purple grape vine.
HOW TO GET RID OF APHIDS ORGANICALLY
It’s obvious that I now need to do something to get rid of these aphids. The few lady bugs I’ve seen this summer are obviously not getting the job done. Not to mention, I haven’t seen any lady bugs in several weeks. (Too hot??)
Here’s what I plan to do:
1. Make a small bucket of soapy water using insecticidal soap. (Any horticultural soap will do. I don’t like using dish liquid because it contains detergent which can burn the leaves.) I will then dip the tips of my grape vine leaves into that to wash off the bulk of the ants and aphids. I’ll see what I can do with the apple tree. Because it’s so young, I might be able to bend the tips enough to get it in the bucket. (Of course, I’ll be holding the bucket up to the limbs.)
2. Use the garden hose to spray off more aphids and ants.
3. Spray with insecticidal soap, which removes the waxy coating on aphids and causes them to dry up. That will get rid of the ants, too, because I destroyed their food supply.
4. Spray with neem oil. (Any horticultural oil will do.) This smothers the aphids.
5. Spray insecticidal soap and neem oil in an alternating pattern until my plants are free of aphids (and ants).
My methods aren’t very technological, but they should beat back the alien invasion and help me save the day!
Are aphids attacking your plants? How are you beating back the invasion?