What To Do About Aphids

Spring is not only the time for great blossoms, but also unfortunately high season for aphids


Photo courtesy of Paul van de Velde

Aphids

We will find these tiny (1/16-3/8 inch), winged insect feeding on the sap of tender new shoots, mostly on the end of the stems and developing flower buds. The rose buds will deform and sometimes fail to open.

These insects, sometimes refered as greenfly, come in with many different colors like green, brown, red, pink or white, and if you do not inspect your flowers closely, you nearly cannot spot them.

They excrete honeydew, a sticky substance that, if infected, may turn black in a sooty mold.

Sometimes it may not be easy to figure out that a plant is infested with greenfly. Unmistakable signs are ants marching up and down your rose plants. Ants love honeydew and almost besiege your roses to get that sweet candy.

Prevention And Control Of Aphids

Although these pests can destroy your flowers, they are fragile animals and insecticides will only be the last step to use on your roses.

If you spot them on the plants, you need to act right away, and get rid of them. Left alone, they will reproduce rapidly, with a bad ending for the roses.

The mechanical way

Rub of the pests with your fingers or if you find it disgusting, spray with a sharp jet of water once or twice a day. Repeat that procedure for the next 1-2 weeks. This will discourage any greenfly that were not killed.

The natural way

The best, easiest and most comfortable way would be to encourage ladybugs and lacewings to your rose garden. They eat any greenfly that appear.

For that purpose, plant some Beneficial Bug Wildflowers around the roses to attract the beneficial insects. Planting some companion plants like garlic, thyme or rosemary can help to deter greenfly from  roses.

Treating a chronic greenfly problem

To keep the roses healthy is probably the best way to avoid insect pests on your plants. That means to feed and water them frequently. Anyway, it can be that this annoying pests will return from year to year to feast on your plants. In that case, I would recommend the following organic approach:

  • Spray the flowers with an organic pesticide such as pyrethrum or insecticidal soap.
  • Spray dormant oil in early spring to kill overwintering eggs and
  • Or  use neem oil

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