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Posts: 49
Joined: Sat Aug 15, 2009 1:44 pm
Location: Austin TX

I am losing the war in my garden!

I am at constant battle and I am losing!

I have million of little black ants, which I read aren't harmful by themselves. However, these little ants are farming aphids. At least I think that is what is going on. this is my first ever garden.

It started on my Bell Pepper plants, which haven't grown a bit in 2 months. There are large concentrations of black ants around newly forming leaves.

A few days later, I notice bunches of what look like little white eggs, I assume these are aphids.

Then I see holes in the leaves, the plants whither and cease growing.

I tried mixing Joy and water as I read in one forum and spraying, but it seems to turn the leaves brown and do more damage! The aphids turn orange and appear to die, but they are back a day later. I tried spraying 3 times a day and it doesn't overcome them.

So question 1 and the biggest problem, is how can I kill these buggers!?

My second problem is that I have noticed white dots forming on my leaves, about the size of your thumb print. Those leaves also whither and die after awhile. What is that? How do I kill it?

My garden consists of:

2 Bell Pepper plants, both infested with aphids and white dots.
1 Tomato plant, doing farily well, appears to be pest free.
1 Jalepeno plant, now also covered with ants and aphids.
Some various flowers, holes in the leaves, but no visible pests.

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Super Green Thumb
Posts: 25279
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 6:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b

Aphids are usually pretty easy to control, being slow and stupid. They will just sit there and let you squish them. I don't like to do it bare handed, so just use a kleenex or paper towel. Go all over the undersides of leaves and the stems. The squished bodies of aphids also act as a deterrent to other aphids (maybe they aren't totally stupid! :) )

Other than that, Neem oil is recommended, or a mineral oil and water mix with a little soap. This forum would have recommended soapy water spray. Your Joy might be detergent not soap, which would be why it damages the leaves. Look for something like Dr. Brunner's pure castile soap. With the soapy water spray again you have to be sure to coat the underside of the leaves. Or use a hot pepper spray of garlic and peppers blended in water. I and others have posted several versions of this recipe. Do a search for it.

Here's an article about aphid control:

Predators: Green lacewings, ladybugs and their respective larvae have a voracious appetite for aphids. Larvae from the syrphid fly also consume aphids. Hover flies and praying mantis feed on aphids. [RG note: you can buy many of these, especially ladybugs]

Repellent plants: Anise, chives, coriander (cilantro), garlic, onions, petunias and radish. Nasturtiums act as a trap crop. Aphids definitely prefer yellow flowers.

*Squashing a few aphids around the infested plants releases a chemical signal that makes the other aphids drop from the plants and leave.
*To foil aphids: flatten a square of aluminum foil around the base of plants to bounce light on the undersides of leaves. This also helps the plants in giving them more light.
*Try a barrier of powdered charcoal, calcium dust or bonemeal to keep them away from your plants. [RG note this also keeps the ants away]
*Stinging Nettle Spray: Aphids & Thrips - Cover 1 quart nettles with water, cover and ferment for 3 weeks. Mix 1 part nettle tea with 7 parts water. Spray.
*Spread out a barrier of tansy around the base of the plant to stop those ants. [RG note: or mint or anything else strong smelling]
*Use a spray made from a tea of tomato or potato leaves and water.
Chop 12 or so tomato leaves and 1 chopped onion in 1/2 cup of of 70% isopropyl alcohol for a few minutes. Apply the mixture directly on aphids with a cue tip or paintbrush. [RG note or put the tomato leaves and onion in the hot pepper spray]
*A forceful spray of water is often enough to knock the aphids off the plant and may discourage the ants, well sometimes.
*Put a bright yellow plastic pan in a strategic spot in the garden. Fill it a third of the way full with water. Aphids are drawn to the yellow color, land on the water, sink and drown.
*A soap spray can be used to strip them of their protective wax coating, dehydrating them. Mix 1 tablespoon of Castile soap to 1 gallon of water, spray.
*Garlic oil spray can kill aphids and other soft bodied pests.
A dusting of diatomaceous earth is lethal to aphids. Wear a mask when using DE.
*Place banana peels at the base of infested plant. The peels give them a shot of potassium too!

Super Green Thumb
Posts: 7500
Joined: Tue May 06, 2008 7:02 pm
Location: El Cerrito, CA

Just have a minute (or less)...

Joy, and other liquids (like Dawn) are not SOAPS. They are DETERGENTS. They will burn the leaves.

Use a liquid soap. We've discussed it elsewhere; please use the Search on the left-hand side of almost any page for "liquid soap."

It does work; I've used it, and so have many others, both here and elsewhere.

Best wishes.

Cynthia H.
Sunset Zone 17, USDA Zone 9

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Senior Member
Posts: 158
Joined: Sat May 02, 2009 7:13 am
Location: Minnesota

cynthia_h is correct, although dish soap can be used
it will burn the sure to wash it off after an hour if it is used, and NEVER spray plants with anything in the sun.
there are so many homemade sprays, some work well, others are debatable..
I have pure neem oil, and mixed properly, it is very effective, nut it IS pure cold pressed, and if mixed to strong, will burn the leaves..
now if you want to Not experiment while your plants wither and die,
and don't want to start mixing solutions...

Find a garden supply house, and get the product "Concern", it is neem, mixed with fatty acids (soap) it works well. (also seen this at Wally World):wink:

Or a SURE FIRE product like Bonide brand Pyrethrin/Rotenone concentrate...also available at most garden centers.

on a small garden like yours, a small bottle of this will last you a couple seasons, and protect your plants.
It serves Our 7000 sq. ft.+ garden well, and we have 125 hot and bell peppers, 40 tomato plants and over 2000 sq. ft. of corn.

and of course all the other usual crops...
I have used the Concern, and NOT had to go back to retreat the peppers, but the other homemade sprays...well with all this garden, I just don't have much time for things that don't work.

so I usually only use the two products I named

Good Luck, don't give Up...remember, there is ALWAYS NEXT YEAR :D [/u]

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