settledown
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Help Please: Aphid Infestation

I have aphids destroying my Chinese Elm. A brief description of the damage thus far are many dead leaves (more than the normal autumn loss), many white dead aphid bodies and then some larger ones walking around in the soil. There is also a sticky sap type of liquid all over the pot and the trunk. What are the best solutions to get rid of them without hurting my plant?

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Gnome
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settledown,

I had a bad aphid problem this summer with some Firethorn seedlings I started a few years ago. Repeated spraying with Neem Oil (dilluted appropriately) got me over it. I did find that a spray bottle just was not cutting it and still had the problem unitl I switched to a larger, one gallon, sprayer that you pump up and pressurize. Perhaps with only one plant you won't have to go to the trouble but with approx two dozen I just was not getting good coverage with the smaller device.

There are other remedies scattered around this board. A search should turn up other options such as as insecticidal soap.

Norm

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rainbowgardener
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The sticky sap is honeydew that the aphids secrete.

Aphids are slow and soft bodied and stupid and they will just sit there and let you squish them. I have a couple plants, including a mini rose bush that get covered with aphids every spring. I go over them with a kleenex (since I'm squeamish about doing it bare-handed) and squish all the aphids. They don't come back until the following spring.

Alternatively you can spray with soapy water. (Use soap, not detergent which can harm your plant leaves; most dishwashing liquid is detergent.)
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djlen
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I used the insecticidal soap solution this Summer that I use indoors all Winter, to keep the Aphid and Mealy Bug population at zero with good results. It is safe and mild even on the tenderest of plants, but hard on the bugs. So mild that I "mist" my Fukien Teas with it. Aphids love Fukiens but I have not seen one since I started using the soap. I use Dr. Bronner's Castile soap in my mixture. Very pure and mild, but effective.
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bullrich
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Abandoned Bonsai

After being laid off, one of our associates left a Bonsai tree in her office. it was covered with aphids, so I took it home, sprayed it with soap, etc. It dropped ALL the leaves. Will it revive?????

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Gnome
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bullrich,
I took it home, sprayed it with soap, etc. It dropped ALL the leaves. Will it revive?????
Possibly, you will just have to wait and see. Did you use detergent rather than actual soap? Most suggest that the latter is preferable and and the former can cause problems.

Do you know what species it is? Some plants don't respond well to certain sprays. There may be other things going on as well. Was the tree stressed from being left unattended? Sometimes a change in environment can cause such reactions as well. For instance, Ficus are known to behave this way.

Norm

bullrich
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Thank you so much, Gnome, for your response. I believe it is a fukien tea tree. It wasn't abandoned too long, but the owner left it behind because it was covered with aphids. Even the humidity tray had the sticky sap on it from the aphids. It had been watered. I used hand soap, a bit of vegetable oil, water, and a bit of alcohol (found the recipe on a website) and it got rid of the aphids. But all the leaves were dry and curling under...in fact, if you touched a leaf, it would drop. I'm hoping it wil send out new leaves...
I had asked the japanese artist who does our floral arrangements to take a look at it a few months earlier since it had bugs on it back then. She took it home, got rid of the bugs, repotted and brought it back with a bloom or two. But now, a couple of months later...all full of bugs again.
I'm keeping my fingers crossed!!!

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bullrich,

You're welcome. Unfrotunately Fukien Tea is one of the species that is known to be sensitive to certain sprays. I don't have one of these so I can't offer specifics. This care sheet may help though.

https://www.bonsaihunk.us/info/FukienTea.html

Hopefully another member with experience with this species will have something more to offer. Anyone?

Norm

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IndorBonsai
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I bought some kitchen safe bug spray called "Hot Shot kitchen bug killer, contains botanical insecticides" This spray comes in a spray can and doesn't seem to hurt any of my Bonsai including both my large leaf and small leaf Fukien tea trees.

Thought I should mention it is probably not a good idea to soak your trees with this stuff.
When I see any sign of bugs I do a light mist/fog over my trees every other day for about a week. Then switch to about once a week, and now I just do it about once a month just as a preventive measure.
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Gnome
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Jason,

Thanks for the tips.

Norm

bullrich
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Thank you

Thank you Norm and Jason!!!! Very informative!!! This is my first bonsai and it's a "rescue"!!!!!

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djlen
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Into a 32oz.(1qt.) spray bottle put 1 1/2tsp. liquid hand soap. Fill with water and shake well. I also use 1 tsp. of Neem Oil, or Vegetable oil in this mixture and I use this on Fukiens with good success. In fact I use it as a mist for them on a regular basis. I find that Aphids are very tough to get rid of completely unless one is very persistent. I had them on the run last Spring but I will probably see a mild re-occurrence since they've been outside all Summer. If so I'll mist them with the spray every other day to keep the Aphids at bay.
I use Dr. Bronner's "Pure Castile Soap" (can be found on line or in all natural or health food stores) as it is natural and very mild but one can use hand soap as well. Just try to stay away from detergents such as Dawn.
Some swear you can use it but I'd advise against. Find as mild a soap as you can find for the safest bet.
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Len

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Blackdawn_70631
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aphids & ants

I have a Fukien Tea bonsai that probably a couples years old but I've had it since last year about June or July. My husband bought for me from Walmart & it was blooming & sprouted some new limbs. But come fall & that's whwn insects made it home. I couldn't do much with the plant because it had gotten too cold was scared that any excessive watering would cause it to freeze. It's starting to warm up & I'm preparing for battle now.
For the aphids I was going to use dish soap, but I've found many that says "detergant" only one that does not say that is the Palmolive brand. Is that okay for my tree?
The ants are little black ants that have made themselves home in the soil since winter, now there's a nest. What can I do to rid my tre of them?
The tree sits on a window seal and does not go outside. I water it with bottled wmostater too. Every so often I do spray & rub the leaves to get rid of the aphids but need something more stronger than plain water.
My tree is still alive. I think it molted. Most the leaves fell off but there are still some big greens ones and smaller ones trying to come out. But I think it's having a hard time growing cause of the insects.
Can anyone help? I really like this tree. My husband bought it as a gift when I was having a hard time.

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I've bought and used "Safer Insecticidal Soap and diluted it per directions. I've bought and used Dr Bonner's propaganda soap and it also worked when diluted and sprayed.

I have even wet a Q-tip with rubbing alcohol and swabbed aphids with them.

Ants do herd aphids, and will move along if you mess with their cattle (aphids) and the tree is outdoors...

When you add oil to an insecticidal soap spray, you are now building a dormant-oil spray and it will cause leaves to shed. Which is why directions for a dormant-oil spray recommend use when leaves have dropped already.
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djlen
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Such a shame. Since I wrote the post above I have given up on Fukiens. Just too much aggravation with all the ailments and critter issues.
However you, unlike myself are in an area where the weather is more conducive to keeping the plant out doors for a longer period of time.
When you put it out the natural preditors should take care of the ants, etc.
And btw, this is the way to keep plants of this nature healthier. Let it have access to the out doors as soon as the weather permits.
For now if you can find the ingredients I listed above, buy them and mix up a batch. Alternatively, go to your local nursery or even a box store such as Home Depot or Lowe's in the plant dept. and see if you can find a product called "Safer Brand Insect Killing Soap". Don't be afraid to really mist the entire plant and soil with the stuff. The insects you're dealing with are difficult to get rid of and as soon as you can you need to repot the plant getting rid of all the bugs and their larvae.
The tree didn't "molt". I think it's reacting to the infestation which you need to take care of asap.
I wish you luck as I have much experience with Bonsai but Fukiens, I found, were not for me. Nice plant but just too many issues.
Regards,
Len

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Blackdawn_70631
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Another question; I was told another way to get rid of ants from my species of tree was to submerge it in water, not to the top, let the water settle then spray the ants off as they come out with the spray I use for the aphids. Is this true?
Glad I done my research and asked others before moving onward. I knew my tree was too finicky for any kind of household remedy, and my mother-in-law and others were telling me to use Dawn on the aphids. Glad I didn't.

Blackdawn_70631
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Also I can't put my tree outside because we have termites. Or did. They got in the house from bringing my tree in meanwhile killing my first tree.
We caught them a week prior to Orkin coming by, and when they checked we had an infestation around the house. Every single piece of tree limb picked up was crawling with termites. They never had a chance ti come in because we caught them just in time and signed up for termite control. I was taking my tree outside on the back steps on pretty days and bringing it inside at nights.
One day my husband noticed a trail of bugs coming from the tree. The termites got inside the tree, killed it and hadd moved inside the house.
So I really don't want to be putting it outside. Closest my tree gets to being outside is its window seal with the window up.

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aphids are "soft bodied" insects - the soft part in contrast to bugs with a hard shell that are not affected by soapy water.

the soapy water washes off their waxy coating and the aphids die from dehydration.

I advise some care in selecting your "soap" - you must stick with a natural soap - detergents have lots of 'other stuff' in them and they are positively famous for killing people's whole gardens / flower beds. you cannot count on word of mouth / what worked for somebody else / what worked last year because companies routinely change their formulations based on raw materials cost and different geographic areas may have different formulations.

people holler: but my grandmother always just threw the dishwater on the plants - okay, true. but your grandmother likely was not using the better-detergents-through-chemistry of today.

Safers was mentioned - it's a known good bet.
people talk about Ivory, and Dr. B's peppermint, etc.
you can probably find handmade/'natural' bar soaps in a lot of shops - tallow & lye - nuttin else perhaps but some scents.

you can eliminate aphids with plain water - just spray the plant and blast them off.
the soaps are all "contact" killers anyway - the real issue with controlling them is they are born pregnant and reproduce at an incredible pace.

when I get an infestation - on roses or peas for example - I blast them off with the hose _every comma every_ day for about a week.

for an indoor plant. one may be limited in 'facilities' to accomplish that - a spray bottle of insecticidal soap works with less 'mess'

Blackdawn_70631
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I went lookng just now at the only lumber/garden shop in town (walmart is 20 mins when I have a 30 min break) and they don't even have a mild pesticide. It's all top dollar hard killing stuff for ants and other insects.
I'm going to buy some dish liquid, looking to make sure there is no detergent, and hope for the best.
I'm surprised my tree had survived the winter with the aphids & ants. Last summer it was mealy bugs. They were easy to get rid of, but these aphids are a pest.

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