DabbleOnward
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Does Tobacco Smoke Help Deter Aphids?

SO like many Ive been deep in a never ending battle with aphids. I had a huge issue with yellow aphids on my sugar cane. I didnt even see them. I thought the yellowing was just older leaves on their way out. I about lost it when I saw just how many there was. My flame thrower took care of that infestation :-)

So ever since then Ive learned the lesson and now take a closer look at all my plants now. Ive had a Cherokee Tomato that has remained the healthiest and pest free since the get go. It survived a serious blight issue and has been a strong tank since then. Just the occasional dry leaf from time to time. So Ive been nursing a hot pepper back to life from a hostile take over of aphids. And Ive been nursing some sweet potato cuttings into the winter that have been over run a bit with aphids. After experimenting with Chili/Garlic sprays and even using a chemical insecticide Ive just become accustomed to throwing on some gloves and beginning a squash fest with my hands. Yet I know come spring I plan on growing a lot and solving my issues by hand will just be too much.

My mother has always used tobacco spray as a way to solve pest problems. It sounds opportune. I must state though Im not trying to be pro organic, I just want something that will relieve me from my head ache. Not to mention something that can be applied readily without the risk of over application. Ive seen Neem Oil that people say is very affective. Ive even come across a commercial aquaponic grower that uses 7 different types in rotation to keep the lil buggers from getting used to one thing.

ANyways I was thinking and I couldnt find much info via Google because of the search words. I operate most things now within a greenhouse. It will be a little more open come spring and summer but really over all it is a closed space. Ive used lady bugs which are rather cheap but its hard to get them to stick around, even with homes. I was curious though besides doing a tobacco spray could I smoke my house over night? Kinda like a bug bomb in a home. Or maybe with a smoker thats used to calm bees could I smoke and blast my plants with a nice dose of vaporized tobacco?

The thought came to me when reading tobaccos affects and an article writer joked about having smokers sit near a rose bush to discourage aphids. Anyone tried this? I don't smoke and I realize that proper safety is necessary for this idea. I have a nice strong fan that could evacuate any sign of smoke and harmful air before I would have to go into the greenhouse.

imafan26
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Re: Tobacco?

Do you see ants? If you do put out the ant bait.
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DabbleOnward
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Re: Tobacco?

No. Thats whats kind of frustrating because Ive taken care of the ants already.

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Does Tobacco Smoke Help Deter Aphids?

Hand squishing is one of the most reliable and least environmentally destructive ways to control them, but I understand it isn't really practical if you are talking about acreage.

Ladybugs and other beneficial insects like lacewings, parasitic wasps, etc are the most natural and least work way to control aphids, but you have to have the right conditions for them. If you have sprayed your plants with chemical insecticide, then don't bother trying to have beneficial insects. Most insecticides are actually more effective against the beneficial insects (which have smaller populations) than against the things you want to kill.

If you purchase ladybugs, put them in the fridge for 6-8 hrs to slow them down before you release them. Water your plants first so that there are water droplets for them and then release the ladybugs in the early evening, around twilight. Be sure there are food sources for them besides the aphids. They eat insects and flower pollen. So you need to have some appropriate flowers in and around your garden. This would include: Angelica, Calendula, Caraway, Chives, Cilantro, Cosmos, Dill, Fennel, Feverfew, Marigold, Statice, Sweet Alyssum.

Another simple, low harm treatment for your aphids is a soapy water spray. You can purchase insecticidal soap like Safers, or you can just spray them with soapy water. Use real soap like Dr. Brunners, Ivory flakes, Murphy's oil soap, not detergent (dishwashing liquids are generally detergent), which can burn your plants. Put a tablespoon of soap and a teaspoon of salad oil (to help it stick) in a quart of water, mix it up and spray. This works against any soft bodied insects like aphids, but only on contact. It doesn't have any residual effects, so you have to spray the actual aphids.

I don't know about the tobacco smoke. But nicotine is quite toxic. It is a potent insecticide, but broad spectrum and will kill your beneficials as well as the aphids. I have usually seen it used as a liquid spray - infuse your tobacco in water.

Neem oil works when the bugs ingest it. So it works much better against leaf eating bugs. The aphids are not leaf eaters, they pierce the plant and suck the juices. So I would not expect the Neem to have much effect against the aphids.
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Re: Does Tobacco Smoke Help Deter Aphids?

Neem is an antifeedant but works best before there are problems. Once a problem is entrenched the bugs don't care if the plant tastes bad, they just keep eating.

Depending on what you are growing you should also be concerned with TMV which can be spread from the tobacco and also by your hands if you touched it and then touch the plants.

I have only had issues with aphids on citrus and taking care of the ants usually fixes most of the problem, the rest I take care of by just blasting them off with a jet of water. I have a setting on my hose sparyer and the adjustible nozzles work fine as well. I just make sure I get the plant growing tips and both the upper and lower leaf surfaces. If there are no ants, the aphids that get knocked down can't be carried back and if I hose the plants down every day, I reduce the numbers quickly. I also feed the plants some AACT if I have any and fertilize them if I haven't already. Basically pests attack weak plants and they especially like new growth, so I try to make sure the plants have enough food to support the growth and the plant is as healthy as I can get it. Getting rid of the ants will allow the predators to take care of the aphids.
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applestar
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Re: Does Tobacco Smoke Help Deter Aphids?

You can keep the ladybugs in the warmer part of the fridge and dole them out as needed over several weeks. I'm releasing them in the house, and I'm not surprised by the mixed reactions that have been expressed! but surely, in a greenhouse! it would be ideal.

Don't you have insect screens on the vents/windows to your greenhouse? I imagined that I would if and when I ever have a greenhouse. That would keep the ladybugs IN while keeping other bugs OUT. Perhaps remove them for pollinating insects during limited period when that's needed, but I always pictured hand pollinating or growing plants that don't need help in a greenhouse.
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Re: Does Tobacco Smoke Help Deter Aphids?

Agreed. Lady bugs did the trick the first two go around. It was a lot of fun releasing them as they crawled everywhere and on everything, including me. They were a little reckless and I had to be careful not to squash any that fumbled their way to the ground. I tried drilling out some timbers to make their homes but it seems that not many stuck around, if any. I do have a "pond" in my greenhouse so there is the water source, but to be honest I didnt have flowers for them. I thought to collect a bunch from around our house but upon noticing aphids in the flower petals I opted out because even if they were to be eaten I still didn't want to bring in MORE aphids.

I tried the smoke. Not sure it did anything lol. Although I didnt apply directly. I mixed some chewing tobacco in with some wood shavings and placed them in a small metal pan. A terra Cotta flower pot fit snug over the pan. I have an old dual electric hot plate so I just positioned it near some of my plants and set the loaded stack on a hot plate and turned it up high. Eventually the smoke began to escape out the small hole of the pot. Figured my first test would to just "bug bomb" the green house in smoked tobacco. They say the inter planting of garlic and onions are deterrents for pests because of the scent so maybe the toxic smoke of tobacco could be. It was a light dose from the looks of the house at peak smoking. Still a few signs of aphids so theres no telling. Next Ill be trying a hand smoker to directly apply thick smoke to the plants. Ill be fabricating something with the use of dry ice or an ice pack so that Im not blasting my plants with hot smoke.

Another thing comes to mind as well. I recently read a research article on the benefits of smoke water. It was primarily directed towards papaya producers and the need to dispose of excess by product from rice (if Im not mistaken). They would burn the organic waste and bubble it through water. It proved, in very low dosages (diluted to .1), to aid in seed germination. Also it proved, in dosages diluted to 10%, to help plant growth. I think one of the tests spoke of the smoke watered plant have a growth rate better by 9 days. So maybe a mixed wood/tobacco smoke water that could be sprayed onto the plant as a dual pesticide/foliar fertilizer? Worth a try.

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Re: Does Tobacco Smoke Help Deter Aphids?

what makes you think wood/ tobacco smoke would have any benefits as a fertilizer?

I think you are not taking it seriously enough how toxic nicotine is. Tobacco tea made by simmering tobacco in water, then straining the tobacco leaves back out, sprayed as a liquid on plants is an HERBICIDE/ weed killer. The smoke is probably less concentrated than that, but it is hard for me to think it would be good for your plants.

The newest generation of highly toxic pesticides, called neonicotinoids, are based on nicotine (imadaclopid is one example). A lot of people think that the heavy use of neonicotinoids is responsible for the disappearance of bees.

Is all this messing around with smokers really easier than just spraying soapy water?
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shadylane
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Re: Does Tobacco Smoke Help Deter Aphids?

Do you grow herbs? Chives work for detouring them from the plants you mostly see them on. Also heard that they are attracted to the color yellow. It is said to lay out a yellow colored pan of soapy water where you see them most.

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Re: Does Tobacco Smoke Help Deter Aphids?

In a greenhouse it is harder to control pests because you do have to control them by exclusion. The center of the greenhouse is usually where the problems are the worst because that is where air circulation is the worst. More fans in the center of the greenhouse will help. It is hard to control the crowding.

If you want to keep ladybugs alive in the greenhouse there's the rub.
The pond is probably too deep for water. They could get water off the leaves if you overhead spray, but people usually try to keep the leaves dry. A shallow pan of pebbles with a little water between the pebbles is just right. Enough for them to reach with good landing spots.

Fennel, dill, marigolds, alyssum, verbena, butterfly weed and for me lavender multifida (zone 10 lavender blooms most of the year) provide nectar and are trap plants for the aphids.

Adult ladybugs eat some insects but require nectar and water. They get that from blooming plants. Plants like fennel, dill and marigolds are also aphid traps. Basically they invite the aphids to them, so in theory they leave the other things alone. Lady bug larvae are ugly, only a lady bug could love, but they eat way more aphids than the adults. The best hosts for them are the fennel, marigolds and dill. Fennel blooms for me for many months so it is my best sentry plant. Dill is seasonal and the blooms don't last that long. Marigolds need to be planted in succession.

The downside of fennel is that it does not like company so you need to be careful what is planted next to it. I have gynuura, horseradish and gingers next to mine. They either are not bothered by aphids or attract a different kind. Everything else, tomatoes, perilla, peppers will grow but the aphids attracted to the fennel will come for the buffet and once fennel blooms it stunts everything around it so the plants need to be full size by the time the fennel blooms.

To keep ladybugs in the greenhouse, you need to provide habitat and food for the larvae. If you have a small greenhouse, I would go with the marigolds. They will provide nectar, and trap aphids. Trap plants are just pulled and bagged aphids and all. If you have lady bugs in the greenhouse, they will lay their eggs on the plants and the larvae will feed on the aphids. I would plant the pollinator and beneficial attractors around the outside of the greenhouse. Alyssum (nectar) attracts many beneficials bees, parasitc wasps, and ladybugs. Fennel, marigold, and butterfly weeds also attract multiple beneficial insects and are trap plants so the ladybugs will lay their eggs in them. If there is no food, the lady bugs you buy will not stick around. To keep them around, you need to have some plants to provide habitat and food. BTW fennel isn't bothered by the aphids and I grow bulb fennel for the bulbs, seed and leaves.
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Re: Does Tobacco Smoke Help Deter Aphids?

Just last year they banned nicotine as a pesticide. I thought it happened a long time ago, but apparently I was misinformed. I have used it in my garden as a pesticide (by soaking cigarette butts in water, and using that tea to pour around the base of my garden... it works but....) nicotine is really toxic. It can kill ... well everything, plants, you, all of it. Here is the information I pulled off of wikipedia:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicotine#U ... nsecticide

Nicotine is nasty stuff, there are several alternatives, don't use nicotine, for you...or your garden!
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shadylane
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Re: Does Tobacco Smoke Help Deter Aphids?

I do remember reading some time back on the use of tobacco products around your plants that cause Mosaic virus

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https://extension.psu.edu/pests/plant-di ... reenhouses

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sweetiepie
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Re: Does Tobacco Smoke Help Deter Aphids?

I have had good luck with ladybugs taking care of the aphids. Though the ladybugs did leave the garden, they were found in the surrounding fields. So I am hopeful that after a few years they will just reproduce and stay around the area.

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Re: Does Tobacco Smoke Help Deter Aphids?

Hi,

I'm usually 100% against synthetic insecticides but I did read about a product manufactured by Rockwell (I think) called Fenvastar Ecocap (excuse spelling) which was successfully used to knockout an infestation of Asian Lady Beetles, through selective aerosol spraying (here's the brief review: https://www.howtogetridofcarpenterbees.c ... ap-review/).
My personal preference is always try natural treatment/prevention products, as its so easy these days to just spray and kill everything - we're all entitled to living in harmony on this planet (excuse my hippy moment :lol: ). Something like this liquid all natural spray: https://www.howtogetridofcarpenterbees.com/ works wonders in my garden to effetively get rid of aphids or you could try Lady Birds? They love the little green blighters O:)

Hope that helps :D

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shadylane
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Re: Does Tobacco Smoke Help Deter Aphids?

no wonder the world is falling apart, those Asian beetles are more effective on aphids than the Lady bird beetles. Which neither are native here but are doing a great service..one more to add to the subject said on the club.
Again why "get rid" of the carpenter bee...they do a service as well. Get out of the framed life of gardening and take notice what is going on nature wise, we would be all the better for it.

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Does Tobacco Smoke Help Deter Aphids?

Are you claiming the esfenvalerate (active ingredient in the Fenvastar you named) is "all natural"? It is not. It is a SYNTHETIC pyrethroid. Pyrethroid is related to pyrethrin which is derived from flowers. However, the synthetic pyrethroids are many, many times more concentrated than the natural pyrethrins and are highly toxic.

It is in the same class with permethrin, which I wrote about here, midway down the page: https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/vi ... 11&t=57653

The document you linked (first link) to shows this:

Amphibians Very Highly Toxic Very Highly Toxic
Fish Very Highly Toxic Very Highly Toxic
Insects Very Highly Toxic Very Highly Toxic
Molluscs Very Highly Toxic Very Highly Toxic
Zooplankton Very Highly Toxic Very Highly Toxic
~ Un-Assigned Very Highly Toxic Very Highly Toxic

The first one is average acute toxicity and the second one is range of acute toxicity. It is also toxic to birds though not as highly

Esfenvalerate binds tightly to soil particles and is relatively immobile in soil and shows a low tendency to leach. So the main danger to aquatic organisms is from drift when it is sprayed near ponds etc. Because it binds to soil like that, it accumulates in soil, especially following multiple applications in a single growing season. So fields will get more and more toxic. The half-life in soil averaged 154 days -- that is the time for half of the esfenvalerate in the soil to be broken down. In another 154 days half of the remaining chemical will be broken down, for a total of 3/4. In another 154 days, half of the remaining will be broken down, for a total of 7/8, and so on. That is average meaning in some conditions it could be much longer. https://www.cdpr.ca.gov/docs/emon/pubs/f ... /esfen.pdf

It is a broad-spectrum insecticide which kills almost all insects, including of course beneficial insects, including honeybees. Esfenvalerate (Asana) is in the group of Highly Toxic Pesticides. This group includes materials that kill bees on contact during application and for one or more days after treatment. Bees should be moved from the area if highly toxic materials are used on plants the bees are visiting. https://extension.entm.purdue.edu/publications/E-53.pdf

You are in a section called "Organic Insect and Plant Disease Control." If you want to use synthetic poisons that is your business. If you want to recommend them in other sections, that is your business. But please not here. You call yourself "beekeeper;" you should know better. If you are keeping bees, please do not use this stuff anywhere near them or near where they will be for the next "one or more days." I didn't go looking for data on what the "or more" might mean for esfenvalerate.
Last edited by rainbowgardener on Thu Apr 30, 2015 2:18 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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green&colorful
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Re: Does Tobacco Smoke Help Deter Aphids?

Slice banana peels into small pieces and then put those pieces near the plant root unless you have raccoon or rat or squirrel issues. Else dig some soil and put the sliced peels and then cover em' with the soil.

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