What Are Aphids and How to Get Rid of Them

By | General | No Comments

Background

Aphids are small, soft-bodied insects that can destroy and weaken plants by using their piercing sucking mouthparts to feed on sap from leaves, stems and fruits. Depending on species and food source, they can be black, red, brown, yellow or green. Commonly, adult aphids are wingless but still some of them can grow wings especially when their population gets high.

Aphids have pear-shaped bodies with long antennae; adult and nymphs aphids look similar. Most of them have two tiny short tubes known as cornicles bulging from their back end.

As they feed on plant sap, they produce large amounts of sugary fluid waste known as “honeydew”. The honeydew produced by these insects can cover the gaps of the affected plant. A fungus known as “sooty mold” can be formed in the honeydew that multiplies on the branches and leaves, making them all black.

Life Cycle

During spring, an egg hatches, producing a wingless female aphid and soon give birth to many new wingless female nymphs. A female young nymph grows and increase in size and after a week, they give birth to another more nymphs. This process goes repetitively and will result to a large number of population. As their colony get crowded, some of the female aphids develop wings and fly off to another plants to build another colonies. Male Aphids develop during the late summer and early fall which mate with the female aphids and start laying eggs in the next winter. Generally, most aphids, except for the sexual forms, do not require to mate in order to reproduce. They give live birth to baby aphids, rather than eggs

Damage

Adults and nymphs aphids feed on plant sap, attacking mainly the stems, leaves, flowers and even the roots. The damage created by these insects is caused by the clogging of the plant’s leaves with honeydew, the loss of plant’s sap and the presence of fungi and molds on their honeydew.

Below are the indications that aphids are attacking and are slowly creating damage to your plants:

  • Leaves start to look deformed, curled, stunted and turns yellow.
  • Aphids may have been sipping sap if the leaves or the plant’s stem are shielded with a sticky fluid. This sticky fluid is known as “honeydew” which can attract more insects, contributing more damage to your plant. Commonly, when aphids feed on trees, the sticky fluid they produce can drop onto cars, driveways and outdoor furniture.
  • Flowers and fruits of your plant get distorted when aphids start to feed on them.
  • Some aphid species cause galls to form on roots or leaves.
  • Viruses may be transmitted to other plants by aphids.
  • Branches and leaves of your plant will turn into black caused by a fungal growth that is developed in their honeydew.

Different Ways to Get Rid of Aphids

Below are the suggested solutions from wikiHow to mitigate the damage caused by Spider Mites

  1. Make Organic Aphid Sprays. Create an aphid spray using a mild detergent and water, or make a soapy garden spray. You could also try the more garlic and onion version here. Spray every two to three days over a period of a week – you must spray the aphids directly for this to be effective. You can also use garlic spray as an effective aphid controller.
  • Consider using neem oil mixed with water. Or, add neem oil with OHN (garlic + ginger + molasses). Dilute the ingredients in water and spray directly below the leaves (where aphids hide). Spray repeatedly 3 times per week for a plant with serious aphid damage.
  1. Squash them. Provided you don’t mind quite a bit of patrolling and squishing, you can be very effective at reducing the aphid population by manually squashing them. This is labour intensive and likely you will miss some, but combined with organic sprays, this can be very effective. Wash your hands well with soap after each session, or wear garden gloves.
  2. Companion plant. Plant your favorite roses or other aphid-attracting plants alongside aphid-discouraging plants. Aphids dislike garlic, chives, onions, mint, and petunias. Aphids love nasturtiums. Roses grown with garlic plants or chives are much less prone to aphid attacks and both have a beautiful flower of their own during flowering season.
  3. Release ladybirds. Ladybirds (ladybugs) feast on aphids. You can purchase the larvae in packs online or from specialist nurseries. Follow the release instructions carefully – they should be released right near the food (the aphids) and must never be released in an area that has been sprayed with pesticides.
  4. Blast them with the hose. Depending on how sensitive your plant is and your water usage restrictions, you can blast aphids off the plant with the jet stream of a hose.
  5. Try flour. Sprinkle flour over the aphids using a sieve or flour sifter. The flour will coat the aphids and they will drop off.
  6. Dig banana peel into the ground. Cut-up banana peels or use dried banana pieces for this. Dig the cut-up peel or dried pieces 2.5–5 centimeter (2.0 in) / 1–2″ into the ground around the base of every plant that aphids are attracted to. The aphids will soon be gone.

Things You Need to Know About Whiteflies and How to Control Them

By | General | No Comments

Background

Whiteflies are small sucking pests that can cause a huge problem for your garden. They are known to have a strong resistance to various synthetic pesticides making it hard to control them chemically. They don’t just bring destruction to your plants through feeding but they can also transmit plants virus making the damage even more badly.  These sucking pests often come out suddenly, and can easily weaken plants through constant feeding. The most common species of this insect are the, greenhouse, silverleaf, sweetpotato whiteflies and bandedwinged.

Adult whiteflies are 1/16 inch long with powdery white wings and short antenna. They can be easily noticed and often found on the stem ends and near the tops of your plants. Nymphs are wingless which are oval, flattened and have a scale-like appearance.

Life Cycle

Whiteflies can attack in all given climates but they attack mostly in mild winter climates that permit their winter survival. When adult female whiteflies find their host plants, they feed on leaf undersides and lay eggs there. Adult female whiteflies can produce 200-400 eggs on the undersides of upper leaves and their eggs hatch in 5-10 days. Upon hatching, the almost invisible small crawlers find a place to feed and insert their sucking mouthparts into plants. Feeding lasts for up to three weeks, when nymphs pupate into adults. Whiteflies transform from egg to adult in roughly 25 days while adult whiteflies can live for 1-2 months. Often, their presence are not noticed until a 30-day period has passed, and their numbers have already increased in the garden.

Note: Immature whiteflies are often overlooked. They are usually almost translucent, pale, and blend with the color of the leaf to which they are attached.

Damage

Whiteflies use their needle-like, piercing mouthparts to suck sap from plant stems and leaves. When affected plants are disturbed, massive number of winged adults fly into the air. Both nymphs and adult whiteflies cause damage to plants by sucking the juices of stem and leaves making the plant’s growth stunted, yellowish leaf and reduced yields.

In their presence, plants in the garden become weak and vulnerable to diseases. Similar with aphids, whiteflies produce honeydew making the leaves sticky or covered with a black sooty mold. They can also transmit various plant viruses to other plants in the garden causing the damage even more badly.

Different Ways to Get Rid of Spider Mites

Below are the suggested solutions from wikiHow to get rid of the whitefly.

Using Natural Solutions:

  1. Vacuum the flies. Use a small hand vacuum, or hold the furniture-cleaning nozzle of a standard vacuum cleaner. Walk around your infested plants and suck the pests from the undersides of the leaves and foliage. This method is quick and straightforward, and it can remove whiteflies from all stages of the development cycle – from larvae to mature, plant-munching adults. Vacuuming is most effective as soon as you notice an infestation.
  • When the vacuum bag is full of whiteflies, trade it out. Seal the vacuum bag inside an airtight plastic bag, then put it into the freezer for at least 24 hours to kill off the insects. Once all of the flies are dead, you can empty the bag into the trash.
  1. Remove the severely diseased leaves and branches. Use garden clippers to trim away as much as you can without killing the plant. You can also pluck infested leaves by hand. Look for white eggs and wingless “crawlers” on the underside of the leaves. Extremely infested leaves may be coated with a sticky or waxy fluid—honeydew—that is produced when the feeding nymphs ingest plant juices. Leaves may also appear pale and wilted.
  • Only trim as much as is healthy for the plant. If a particularly delicate plant is infested, you should cut away only the most infected leaves. If the plant is hardy, consider paring all the way down to the stem in order to stop the infestation in its tracks.
  • Make sure to properly dispose of the diseased leaves. Burn them or seal them into an airtight bag. If you don’t handle the leaves carefully, the whitefly infestation may spread again.
  1. Prepare for repeated applications. The whitefly matures in 4 stages: from eggs, to nymphs, to pupa, to the adult fly. Each method typically only targets certain stages in the fly life cycle. Thus, if a method targets the adult fly, you will need to keep applying that treatment until all of the existing eggs have matured into adults. You will need to be quick and diligent in your treatments to make sure that the newly-formed adults do not lay new eggs.
  • The nymph and adult flies are the only stages that cause physical damage to the host plant. Younger whiteflies will, however, mature into more damaging forms if left unchecked.
  • For the best application timeframe, check the lifespan and stages of your particularly whitefly. Various species—including the Silverleaf, Fig, Greenhouse, and Bandedwing whitefly—each have a different lifespan.
  1. Wash your plants with a soap solution. Pay special attention to the undersides of the leaves, where most of the whiteflies live. Be aware that this method only kills the adult insect. Wash every 3 or 4 days to eliminate the new whiteflies as they emerge from pupa. Depending on the type of whitefly, you may need to continue this treatment for several weeks until the infestation is gone.
  • If you use a highly-concentrated soapy solution, try applying it at the end of the day to avoid burning the foliage.
  1. Introduce a natural predator. Various other species of insect love to feed upon the whitefly, and you might be able to rein in the infestation by bringing the right predator into the ecosystem. This predator will depend on the type of whitefly. Consider green lacewings, lady beetles, ladybugs, minute pirate bugs, big-eyed bugs, wasps, and damsel bugs.
  • Be careful when intentionally introducing any new insect species to your garden. The predators may take care of your whitefly infestation – but you may soon find yourself contending with far too many of the new bug! Research before you act.

Using Traps:

  1. Use a sticky yellow pad. You can buy these traps in garden stores, or you can craft them at home. To make your own: coat a sturdy yellow surface (cardboard or wood) with a slow-drying adhesive substance. Glue, honey, motor oil, or petroleum jelly are good choices. Whiteflies are said to be attracted to the color yellow. When they flit to the yellow trap, they land and cannot free themselves from the glue.
  • If you make your own trap, you may need to reapply the adhesive as it dries out. Glue, for instance, may dry within a matter of minutes or hours. Motor oil or petroleum jelly may be less immediately effective, but might stay sticky for longer.
  • Make sure to remove the traps if you use a spray or a wash, or if you introduce natural predators.
  1. Place the traps close to the leaves. Whiteflies tend to group on the undersides of plant leaves, and your trap will be more likely to catch the insects if it is near their natural habitat.
  1. Know when to remove the traps. Take down the traps once the whitefly population is mostly dead, and you only find a few flies caught each day. The traps also have the potential to kill whitefly predators. Thus, they may not be well-suited to a low-level infestation unless these predators fail to keep the whiteflies in control. If the whitefly population bounces back and returns, then you can feel justified in resetting the traps.

Repelling the Whitefly:

  1. Repel whiteflies with companion plants. French and Mexican marigolds tend to repel whiteflies, as do nasturtiums. Put these companion plants into your garden to keep the pests from returning! Be aware that this is a preventative measure, and not a great solution for existing infestations.
  • Pot marigolds and calendulas are not effective repellents. Make sure to use the right variety! If you aren’t sure, visit a nursery and specifically ask about companion plants that repel whiteflies.
  1. Spray your plants with a soap, water, and rubbing alcohol mixture. In a 32-ounce spray bottle, mix rubbing alcohol with water at a 2:5 ration. Then, add a tablespoon of liquid dish soap. Use the spray bottle to coat the leaves of plants that are at risk for whitefly infestations. If you don’t overdo it, the spray shouldn’t harm most plants – and it might keep the flies from putting down larvae.
  • Consider using a natural tree oil spray, such as Neem oil.
  1. Spray earthworm castings at the base of the plant. Earthworm castings, when added to the fertilizer bed of whitefly-infested plants, have been found to repel the flies within a matter of weeks or months. As an added bonus, these castings are a rich natural fertilizer, and they can greatly stimulate plant growth. Ask for earthworm castings at a local garden store
  1. Cover the ground in a reflective material. Spread a layer of aluminum foil or reflective plastic mulch on the ground around susceptible plants. This may make it much harder for adult whiteflies to locate host plants, which in turn can bring make them less likely to successfully lay eggs.
  • This step will require special water considerations. Plants surrounded by plastic mulch will need a drip irrigation system.
  • Do not use mulch in hot weather. Too much mulch may overheat the plants.

Using Chemicals:

  1. Understand the risks and the benefits of using insecticides. On one hand, a commercial pesticide is sometimes an effective way to quickly kill off the pests. The whitefly, however, is notoriously resistant to chemical products. Furthermore, these chemicals are often toxic to other organisms in the immediate ecosystem – including the plants and benign insects in your garden, pets and local wildlife, and even your family. Try to keep pesticides as a last resort.
  1. Be aware that whiteflies easily build up a resistance to pesticides. Indeed, the eggs and pupae are able to resist most common insecticides. If you do use chemicals, be sure to switch them out in several-day rotations to keep your fly population from adapting. Even so, there is a strong chance that the whiteflies will adapt. You may unwittingly create a strain of pesky super-flies!

How to Prevent Spider Mites from Attacking Your Garden

By | General | No Comments

Background

Spider mites are plant-eating pests that live in colonies and they attack the underside of leaves where they lay eggs and live out their lives. A single colony may contain hundreds of mites. They build a soft web as a shield for their colony against predators.

Adult mites have an oval body and eight legs. Female mites commonly have more hairs and dark, large dots on the body. Immature ones are just like the adults except for their size which is relatively smaller while the newly hatched larvae have only six legs. Spider Mites Eggs are circular and luminous, like tiny droplets, and their color become cream before they hatch.

Life Cycle

Spider mites have a short lifespan of just 2 to 4 weeks but a female can lay up to 20 eggs per day. These eggs will hatch in just 3 days. This means that a single female spider mite can produce a large number of populations that can make a huge damage to a plant quickly. This fast reproductive rate lets spider mites to quickly become resistant to pesticides.

Damage

Spider mites are considered to be one of the trickiest pests. Because they are tiny, they can make a huge infestation before a grower notice them. A lot of gardeners see small spots of a spider mite infestation and believe they are just an effect of nutrient deficiency, not realizing it’s actually something threatening.

The photos above show spider mites and their eggs that are found on the back of leaves

Initially, the damage shows up as light spots on the plant’s leaves. Sometimes, the leaves get bronze color and as the attack continues, the leaves go yellowish or reddish and drop off. If the infestation gets worse, a webbing on the plants and buds starts to build up.

In an article written by Nebula Haze, she mentions about the top reasons why spider mites are despised by plant growers:

  • Rapid reproduction – a single mature female spider mite can produce a million mites in less than a month
  • Disappearing act – spider mites often appear to be gone/killed, then they come back with a vengeance days or weeks later, right when you thought you’d gotten rid of them for good.
  • Big appetites – spider mites can eat up your tender plants in an amazingly short amount of time; a bad infestation has been known to kill plants overnight
  • Webbing – spider mites cover leaves and buds with a fine mesh of silk webbing, ruining whole crops even after you get rid of the spider mites
  • Zombie-like resistance – spider mites quickly become immune to whatever you do to try to kill them; if you don’t take care of your spider mite problem by eradicating them completely from your grow room, you may soon find you have a population of ‘Super-mites’. The two-spotted spider mite which specializes in cannabis seems to be particularly resistant to insecticides, and is sometimes referred to as “the borg” in the cannabis growing community. These ‘borg’ spider mites with two spots on their back can be almost impossible to get rid of! Read one grower’s journey to get rid of the “borg” spider mites in his grow room.

Different Ways to Get Rid of Spider Mites

Below are the suggested solutions from wikiHow to mitigate the damage caused by Spider Mites

Chemical Control of Spider Mites:

  1. Spray with an insecticidal soap indoors. Along with wiping the mites off with water, an insecticidal soap will take care of severe outbreaks.
  2. Purchase a proprietary product suitable for outdoor spider mites. There are sprays or wipes available from garden centers and hardware stores. Use according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  3. Try getting rid of the mites with sulfur. Use either dusting sulfur or wettable sulfur. But don’t use these in hot weather and be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Natural remedies to combat spider mites:

  1. Wash and wipe indoor houseplants regularly. Given that it is fairly easy for the householder to clean indoor plants this way, it can be the most effective and non-toxic method to rid the plants of spider mites.
  • You can use either plain water or a solution of tepid (cool-warm) water mixed with a very mild dish detergent or soap. Any kind of soap can be used, but castile soap is particularly effective.
  • Use a sponge soaked in the water to wipe down individual leaves of the plant, or place the water in a spray bottle and spritz the underside of the leaves.
  • Apply the soap solution again, six days later, if the infestation continues. Be aware that some species of plant are particularly sensitive to soap, so consider testing the soap solution on a small section of the plant before spraying all over.

Spray outdoor plants with a hose. Attach a spray nozzle to your outdoor hose and use it to water any infested outdoor plants. Set the water to a high pressure and try to target the underside of the leaves in particular. This should help to wash spider mites away.

3. Use rubbing alcohol. Isopropyl rubbing alcohol will effectively kill spider mites. Simply pour a little of the rubbing alcohol onto a clean cloth and use it to wipe the underside of the infested plant’s leaves.

4. Use plant-based miticides. There are a number of commercially available miticides which use natural ingredients to kill the spider mites, but leave the plant and other insects unharmed. The three most popular ones are as follows:

  • Pyrethrum is a natural pesticide which is made from a plant closely related to the chrysanthemum. It is the best pesticide to start with when targeting spider mites, however some spider mite species have developed a resistance to it, so you should keep a close eye on plants even after spraying.
  • Cinnamite is a non-hazardous pesticide derived from cinnamon oil. Although it is very safe to use and is effective for killing the spider mites themselves, it will not destroy the eggs. As a result, it will need to be used approximately every 3 days over a two week period, to ensure that all of the newly hatched eggs are killed also.
  • Neem oil is a miticide derived from the nuts of the Neem tree. It is great for targeting infestations, but also works well as a mite repellent and a treatment for powdery mildew.

5. Remove badly infected parts of the plant immediately. Pick up any leaves that have fallen off the plant and pull off any badly damaged leaves from the plant itself. This will prevent the mites from affecting other plants nearby. Place the leaves in a sealed plastic bag and throw in the garbage or burn.

  • If an entire plant is infected, you should consider removing it completely. This will give other plants a better chance at survival.
  • Water affected plants only from above and keep removing any infected plant pieces as soon as you spot them.
  1. Control weeds around plants. Don’t give mites extra hiding places and launchpads to attack the plants that you actually want to grow in the garden.
  • In particular, remove all broad-leaved weeds.
  • Remove all debris remaining after harvest. This includes removing plant stumps, fallen leaves and any other plant matter.
  1. Use a homemade herbal tea. If you want to make your own miticide at home, you can make an herbal tea by mixing a tablespoon of ground cinnamon, a tablespoon of ground cloves and two tablespoons of Italian seasoning in a quart of water.
  • Bring the water to a boil, then take off the heat. Once it has cooled slightly add 2 tablespoons of crushed fresh garlic. Leave to sit until the water cools completely, then strain through a cloth or coffee filter.
  • Add a squirt of dish soap to the tea, then pour into a spray bottle. Spray the underside of the infested leaves with the tea every three days over a two week period. This should effectively kill the mites.
  1. Use essential oils and organic salts. Rosemary oil, in particular, is particularly effective as an organic pesticide. Try spraying a solution of rosemary oil and water onto the leaves of an infested plant.
  • Luckily, the rosemary oil will kill the spider mites, but leave the beneficial, predatory species of mites alone.[1]
  • Fatty acids or potassium salts can be abrasive against mite bodies. Apply these late afternoon, to give the maximum time for the wetness to remain on the plants, to get to the mites.
  • Mist susceptible plants with water in the evening to make the environment cooler and more moist. This works well for the two-spotted spider mites which prefer warm and dry environments.
  1. Encourage the presence of ladybugs and other insects which prey on spider mites. Predator insects, such as lacewing larvae, predacious thrips and ladybugs can decimate spider mite populations if encouraged to stay in your garden. However, one of the main reasons that spider mite populations develop in the first place is the use of pesticides which kill their natural predators. Therefore, you should avoid using pesticides such as carbaryl, malathion and imidacloprid.
  • These insects can be purchased online, from garden centers or through advertisements in gardening magazines. Alternatively, herbs such as amaranth and borage can naturally attract ladybugs into your garden.
  • Ask the supplier for details on how to make the most of using predatory insects, noting that you’ll have less success if using them in a mixed planting area.
  • Predatory mites can also be used against spider mites. Look for Phytoseiulus persimilis or other predatory mite species at the garden center (ask the retailer for the brand names it comes under, as this differs from country to country), then follow the release instructions.
  • Under the right conditions, predatory mites can decimate a spider mite population. Interestingly, ladybugs (or ladybirds) will leave predatory mites alone, targeting just the spider mites!

Powdery Mildew: Background and Prevention

By | General | No Comments

Identification

Plants are prone to various species of fungal diseases especially when there is high humidity in the garden, thus, a strict implementation of different measure to take care of your plants is highly recommended. One of the fungal diseases that may affect a plant in the garden is Powdery Mildew. Unlike other fungal diseases, powdery mildew can also survive during warm season, it does not require moisture to attack your plants. It means that it can attack the plants in the garden under any given seasons.

Building up of spores is the primary symptom that tells whether the fungus has already infected your plant. These spores are contagious and they can attack other plants by carrying the infection through the wind. Powdery mildew can infect the leaves, stems, and even the flowers of your plant which can cause them to bloom less and become weaker.

Symptoms

  • In the beginning, powdery mildew forms as powdery, circular white spots which can be noticed on stems, leaves, flowers and fruits.
  • The infected plant will start to look powdery as if they have been dusted with flour.
  • Powdery Mildew may cause the leaves of the plant to break, twist and become distorted.
  • The upper part of the young leaves will be the first to be infected by the fungus. This makes them turn yellow and dry out.

Prevention

Prevention is better than cure, so as early as possible, it is always recommended to implement preventive measures before allowing the fungus disease to infect your plants further.

  • First tip that can be done to prevent it is by pruning back any dead plant material during its normal pruning time.
  • During planting, observe enough spacing between the plants to allow sufficient air circulation around the plants.
  • Selectively prune overcrowded areas to let air circulate adequately.
  • Avoid planting in damp shady areas. This can make your pants more prone to powdery mildew infection.
  • Some plants are more vulnerable to powdery mildew. Plant resistant varieties in sunny locations whenever possible.
  • Watering from above may give powdery mildew higher chances to infect your plants. It is suggested to water your plants from below using drip lines of hoses.
  • It is recommended to water you plants in the morning so plants can take time to dry during the day.

Treatment

If disease symptoms are observed, treat plants with one of the common garden remedies sold in the garden centers. The following is a list of fungicides that can help fight against powdery mildew:

  • Triadimefon
  • Triforine
  • Thiophanate-methyl
  • Propiconazole
  • Sulfur
  • Potassium bicarbonate

Lorem Ipsum


Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Donec ornare nibh non posuere facilisis. Suspendisse a rutrum est, sit amet malesuada dui.

×