Friday, April 23, 2010

Lean Green Eating Machine

On the first warm day of the week, I walked my yard. I took assessment of all the plants. What was budding, what was leafing out and what didn't make it through the winter. I was thrilled to see that my 'Snow Drift' Crabapple tree was starting to bud. Later that afternoon, my husband did his "walk about" in our yard. He noticed that our beautiful Crabapple tree was infested with aphids! We battle with these little green (white, yellow, red or black) monsters every year!

Aphids are known to be one of the most destructive insects on plants, especially crops. They usually form in dense groups on leaves or stems, taking form as a bumpy texture. Aphids can distort leaf shape, stunt new growth, coat leaves with a shiny "honeydew" and cause leaf "curling".

I get annoyed with these little "buggers" more than I get worried about them. They are one of the most easiest pests to organically remove, if you have a little patience. First, I try spraying my infested plant/tree with a garden hose. I spray the top and underside of the leaves with a fierce spray. I repeat this everyday for 4 to 5 days. If the little buggers are still there, I get out my Dawn liquid dish soap, mix 2 tsp. with a spray bottle of water. You can also buy insecticidal soap. Once again, I spray the leaves everyday for one week. If I still see no signs of retreat, it's time to get serious! Bring out the ladybugs.

You can usually purchase a bag of ladybugs at your local plant nursery. Aphids are their favorite entree. I like to spray there wings with a bit of water and then set the bag out on the infested plant at dusk. This allows the ladybugs to walk out of the bag and discover the aphids at will, without flying away too soon.

It is a good idea to take a close look at all your trees and shrubs every couple of weeks. Many problems can be avoided or treated with minimal chemicals if you discover them early.

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