PrincessE
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Aphids are out of control

I am tired of playing nice. The aphids are out of control on my cucumber plant. I've been spraying NEEM oil and it doesn't seem to be phasing them. I went to reapply the oil last week and noticed a ladybug so I walked away and said a silent prayer that the ladybug would stick around and bring it's friends. I haven't seen it since. I blasted as many as I could with the water sprayer and loaded them down with NEEM again. I have tried to play nice and only use organic materials but now I'm pissed and want them off my plant :evil: . Give me your best remedy for aphid control. I will also mention that I haven't seen any ants around the plant. I roughed up the soil around the base of the plant and searched around the pot and haven't seen any ants. I just moved it yesterday and there weren't any underneath. Please help save my cucumber plant!!!
Debbie

valley
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Re: Aphids are out of control

Greetings, This is a perfect excuse to get some Lady Bugs. There are threads here where you can get an address to buy them.
These great little creatures will soon end your problem. Just type Lady Bugs in the Search line. Your troubles will be over.
Let us know what you do and how it helped. Thanks.

Richard

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applestar
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Re: Aphids are out of control

Well it really doesn't matter what you use. As soon as you use what kills bugs, you also kill the beneficials/predators. Then the faster and more prolifically breeding pests come back, and there will be no predators to eat them. Thus the downward cycle.

Next time you water the container, try completely flooding it to make sure the ants are not actually living inside the container. Just in case. If they are, then flooding will cause them to come swarming out carrying eggs and babies. So do this where you can eliminate them as they come out.

All that said, outside, I rely heavily on the beneficials, but for serious infestation, I cut off the localized outbreak, spray off either water, use sudsy hands to squish and remove. Sometimes I use a drop cloth to catch any that falls to the ground -- dunk and rinse in bucket of soapy water.

After the heaviest aphid pressure is taken care of and the plant has been rinsed off with water, I go searching around the rest of the garden and get uhatched ladybug eggs/pupae or aphid mummies (remove attached to leaf or stem and secure the plant matter to the infested plant), ladybugs, praying mantis babies, spiders, toads, tree frogs, ...whatever member of the Garden Patrol I can find to put to work on the plant. Earlier in the spring, I distribute the unmatched praying mantis ootheca (egg cases) and attach them to plants that need the protection. Usually I have a good idea where to find them because I would have noticed them before.

If you don't have them in your own garden, you could buy them. Ones that you can get as eggs are easier and sometimes more effective -- green lacewings, aphid mummy maker wasps, praying mantis, etc. are there sources in Hawaii?

Sometimes, depending on the plant, trap crops and sacrificial plant that is allowed to be infested is another way to eliminate an infestation. Let those get swarmed, then bag and toss. Usually, it's the weakened plant that is infested more, so be sure to give the desirable plant the best care you can. Cucurbits could be previously affected/suffering from fungal issues or cucumber beetles, for example.
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imafan26
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Re: Aphids are out of control

Right on, Apple. Even organic pesticides have some toxicity even if it says it does not affect hard bodied critters.

Healthy plants make poor targets, weak plants send out signals that they are weak and the bugs have an easier time getting getting past the defenses of a weak plant.

Lady bugs love aphids but ladybug larvae eat way more. Lady bugs will usually not stick around long if the ants are guarding the aphids. If the aphids keep coming back. Check for ants. If you find them you can either apply a sticky barrier or ant bait.

Keep the cucumber healthy make sure it is nice and green, vigorously growing , and the leaves and stems look nice and thick not yellow and thin. Make sure they get fed enough, watered at the base not the leaves and they are not yellow, which probably means they could have used more nitrogen. AACT and vermicast can help to strenghthen the plant's defenses.

If the cucumber is really infested, the season is young, bag it and drag it to the curb. Plant a new cucumber in a different pot and soil or location.

Make sure you keep the plant healthy from the start. If you want to do something organic, Fish emulsion and ACCT weekly helps to keep the plant growing well. The soil should be well drained and watered evenly. The leaves and stems should be vigorous and green. If mildew is a problem, get a cultivar that has some mildew resistance and check with your local extension on what cultivars are recommended for your area.

Check nearby plants, if they have aphids and you find ants tending them, bait the ants and either cut back and bag debris or hose off every plant you see that has aphids with a jet of water.

Plant flowers that provide nectar and habitat for beneficial insects. Don't spray. You need to tolerate some level of bad bugs. The good guys will not hang around if there is nothing for them to eat.

There are some plants that are traps for aphids. Gem series and Crackerjack marigolds, dill and fennel. Fennel needs to be off in the corner by itself. The bad bugs will go after them and leave everything else alone.

Diversity in the landscape helps to protect it.

Companion plant and especially if you have problems, do not plant the same plants or families or plants that attract the same bugs in the same place every year.

Plant green onions and garlic around the garden but not near peas or asparagus.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

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hendi_alex
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Re: Aphids are out of control

It doesn't much matter if you kill the aphids or not, as the farmer ants are the major problem. Kill the aphids, and the ants will quickly restock the aphid farm on the tender growth of favorite plants. Convince the nearby ants to move, and the aphids will no longer expand so quickly, and will allow less harsh control such as water spray or soap spray to work effectively.
Eclectic gardening style, drawing from 45 years of interest and experience. Mostly plant in raised beds and containers primarily using intensive gardening techniques.
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rainbowgardener
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Re: Aphids are out of control

Aphids aren't usually that hard to deal with. I have a couple plants that get literally covered with them every spring. I go over the whole plant and squish all the aphids. Aphids are slow and stupid and just sit there and let you squish them. That seems to take care of it and the aphids don't come back the rest of the season - I think the squished bodies of all their fallen comrades act as a deterrent (but that is just the story I tell myself :) )
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hendi_alex
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Re: Aphids are out of control

For me, it depends upon the crop and the time of the year. Once kale gets infested, it is almost impossible to get to all of the critters. I generally pull and toss all leaves and try to clean the remaining sprouts. For okra and many other plants it is an ongoing battle, because as soon as I remove the critters, the ants restock them and continue to move the aphids throughout the plant. When ants are taken out of the equation, control is much, much easier.
Eclectic gardening style, drawing from 45 years of interest and experience. Mostly plant in raised beds and containers primarily using intensive gardening techniques.
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PrincessE
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Re: Aphids are out of control

Thank you everyone for your help. I think at this point I may start fresh. I trimmed it down quite a bit a few days ago and now it's just a vine with a few sad looking leaves. I have plenty of seeds and a pot that is waiting on a new plant.

I don't know that I can have lady bugs or praying mantis shipped to me because of agriculture restrictions. We did find a huge praying mantis yesterday and put him on my plant. Poor guy looked injured so I hope he pulls through.

I'm going to go buy some plants today that will attract the aphids and nitrogen so I can start with a healthy plant. You guys are the best. Thank you soo much!!!
Debbie

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applestar
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Re: Aphids are out of control

If there is no source in Hawaii, and you can't import them, then you just have to encourage the ones that are already present to prosper locally.

Imafan, doesn't U of H have programs like that? Good luck.
Learning never ends because we can share what we've learned. And in sharing our collective experiences, we gain deeper understanding of what we learned.

JayPoc
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Re: Aphids are out of control

As someone who battles aphids yearly and season long, I've got no qualms about using a weak solution of bonide eight (permethrin). I know many oppose the use of any pesitcides, but this is fairly benign stuff as far as human toxicity goes and is VERY effective on aphids even at less than label strength. The aphids I get are not the ones that are farmed by ants. And they especially damage my tomatoes and cole crops.

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Aphids are out of control

Everyone has to make their own choices, but they should be informed choices. You can read about permethrin here:

https://npic.orst.edu/factsheets/Permtech.pdf

You are right it is not very toxic to humans, but it is highly toxic to honeybees, fish, aquatic invertebrates. Given the honeybee crisis these days, I really try to avoid things that are toxic to them. If it gets too concentrated, cats and dogs can be affected by it as well.
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