It is gardening season and I have lots of greens including thousands of green aphid creatures sucking up the plant juices. Did you know that aphids can wreak havoc on growing plants by weakening plants and spreading diseases. Here in Canada, the vampire aphids sucking up the plant juices weaken the plants so they can’t reach their maximum growth in our very short season.
There are a variety of methods to prevent aphid infestations:
- Try to attract the natural enemies of aphids by planting a variety of flowering plants. Small-flowered plants like sweet alyssum, yarrow, and herbs in the carrot family are often visited by insects that prey on aphids, like the lady beetle, the lacewing, and syrphid flies. Parasitic wasps are also attracted to these flowers.
- Since aphids like the colour yellow, place pans of water and yellow food colouring close to observed infestations to attract and drown them. This method is useful in vegetable gardens.
- In outdoor gardens, place yellow double-sided tape around the rims of pots and along edges of raised beds to trap the aphids.
- Lay heavy aluminium foil on the ground along rows of plants to repel the aphids.
- Certain plants coriander, basil, catnip, chives, and dill may protect other susceptible plants from infestation. They excrete an odour or oil that is unattractive to aphids and may repel them from the area.
However if you have a real infestation on hand, you might need ‘insecticidal’ soap. You can buy these insecticidal sprays but they are costly, or you can make the same effective insecticide with our soap.
There are a variety of recipes on the internet using conventional detergent based dish washing soap. However, detergent based dish soap does not contain fatty acids. Mountain Sky Castile liquid soap contains natural fatty acids which dissolve the insect’s exoskeleton and causes them to dehydrate.
Detergent dish soap is actually a bug wash so to make a true natural insecticide, you need to use natural castile soap made with vegetable oils.
It is best to use our natural unscented liquid soap without any essential oils.
The following recipe is good to kill aphids, thrips, mites, white flies and immature leafhoppers:
- Mix one tablespoon per litre or 4 tablespoon for a 4 litre milk jug.
- Use a clean spray bottle to spray plants. If you are recycling a spray bottle, make sure it is very clean as fragrance or other chemicals in the bottle may cause plant death.
- Spray bug infected plants making sure to lift underside of leaves where many of the insects live. Insecticidal spray is only effective if the bugs come in contact with the spray. Spray plants on a cloudy, cooler day or evening as heat and spraying together can contribute to your plant dehydrating, withering and dying. You can also spray the plants with a jet of water an hour after spraying with the soap mixture to prevent any chance of your plant dehydrating.
If you have any spray left at the end of gardening season, rest assured, you can safely use it to wash your hands!
Good-luck and happy gardening!