Attack of the Aphids

Attack of the Aphids pic

Aphids on Pink Lady apple tree

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!


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….

Ants and aphids on Reliance grape vine

Ants and aphids on Reliance grape vine

…and on my white grape vine….

Ants and aphids on Marquis grape vine

Ants and aphids on Marquis grape vine

…and on my purple grape vine.

Ants and aphids on Concord grape vine

Ants and aphids on Concord grape vine


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).

6. Meanwhile, be diligent with spraying aspirin water on my grape vines and apple trees to help strengthen their immune systems and apply bokashi tea fertilizer on a regular basis for feeding.

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?


2 comments on “Attack of the Aphids

  1. We ordered a batch of ladybugs and released them under the tree that was infested. Never had the problem since. That was in MI.
    In SC, I have found that a higher nitrogen fertilizer seems to balance all the phosphate in our soil and plants grow like crazy and produce well. This year, my whole garden is healthier and I have no aphid problems. Insects are attracted to weak plants.
    Your raspberries look great and right on schedule for new plants. Mine are in their second year. I thinned them in the spring and probably should not have. They just are not growing like my Heritage did in MI.

    • I had lady bugs, but they’ve disappeared. You’d think they would’ve invited their friends to join the feast.

      I’ve been fertilizing, but obviously my grapes need more than what I’ve been giving them. This is my first time growing grapes. As for the nitrogen, you have to be careful not to give too much nitrogen, else that can cause other problems. As for the apple tree, one has aphids but the other doesn’t. Go figure.

      My raspberries are starting to flower. Not all canes have buds yet, but I’m happy to say all my canes rooted well. I may not have a large harvest this fall, but I will surely get two harvests next year! (These are everbearing.) I can’t wait! I’ve missed my raspberries, and I have only a couple jars of raspberry preserves left!

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