Thursday, April 5, 2012

Aphids Abounding

I don't often intend for the Garden Musings blog to be a basic garden instructional blog, but my finding of aphids among the roses in the K-State Rose garden, and my subsequent Iphone picture capture of said aphids, shown at left, was too good to leave untold.

For those who have never visited, the K-State Rose Garden is healthier this year than I've ever seen it, and I'm all a-quiver for the blooming days to come.  I stopped by a couple of days back to check on the results of the EMG's recent pruning efforts at the garden and to assess if any current work was needed.  In among the healthy bountiful budding roses, were a few buds or leaves with apparent growths of seething green hair, aphids (also known, appropriately, as "plant lice") which did not then, nor should they ever, send this gardener into a panic.

If you see them, and have not run across such creatures before, DO NOT reach for your bottles of synthetic or organic poisons.  Aphids seldom cause extensive damage on roses in an outdoor garden, and they can be easily controlled by squishing them off the buds (which I accomplished here by rolling the buds gently between my fingers), or by blasting them off with a brisk spray of water.  Both methods of control are satisfying and enjoyable, at least if you don't mind a little bit of green insect stain on your fingertips.  Cackle in an evil manner while squishing, if it suits your fancy.  I knew, even while brushing off a few aphids here and there, that in a few days these bushes will be swarming with aphid-eating lady beetles who will be most happy to rid the garden of the problem all summer long.

Imagine, for a moment, how a lady beetle must look to the poor soft-bellied aphids.  I'll bet that aphid mothers (who are parthenogenetic, thankfully unlike the vast majority of human females in history), have a hard time convincing aphid larvae to sleep at night, fearful as they must be of the red and black-spotted monsters in their closets.  Aphid mothers also probably make their children behave in supermarkets by telling them, "if you don't be good, the lady beetle will eat you."

Great picture, huh?  So good, in fact, that I added the source onto the picture, knowing that this one will probably spread out over the Internet and be used elsewhere.  I don't usually "watermark" my pictures, not really caring if anyone uses my pictures from this blog, as long as they're not making money off of them, and I'm not the world's greatest photographer anyway.  Please feel free to use this picture to educate others, just as you can any of my pictures.  I would appreciate it, however, if you acknowledge the source for pictures because in the long run, it'll bring people back to this blog.  I don't make any money from blogging, but I do get paid in readers, the only currency I care about.


  1. Years ago we had an infestation along the same lines on our shrubberies, and I also found the jet of hose-water to be sufficient until the ladybugs took over. We also had a bunch of the farmer "ants" that tend the flocks of aphid-sheep for the honeydew they exude when petted. I happily let the ants have an exuberant drink along with the aphids!

  2. Great photo! Reminds me of the time I started blasting aphids off a potted swamp milkweed I had, waiting to be planted. Halfway through the spraying process, I realized that I was seeing lacewing eggs (a small egg at the top of a hairlike appendage) on the leaves, so I quit spraying. (Lacewings are as good as ladybugs in chowing down on aphids.) Later yet I learned that milkweeds have their own special species of aphid, so you don't need to worry about aphids on milkweeds spreading to other plants in the garden. Ah, well. Live and learn!

  3. I am all for any strategy that includes cackling in an evil manner.

  4. Gaia, I didn't know that there are plant-specific species. Neat, and thanks for sharing that.

    pq; I cackle frequently. Helps to keep the unruly children wondering.


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