Let's face it, it's a bug eat bug world and that's how to go about aphid control. There are just hundreds of aphid species and quite a few of them are partial to herbs.
You need to keep a vigilant eye on your young crop. Keep looking at the back of each plant's leaves because that's where they hide and multiply really quickly. Before you know it you've got a problem on your hands.
My parsley plant which sat on the kitchen window sill was covered in them before I spotted the outbreak. When I did, I was baffled as to what the bugs were because as you can see in the photo they are orangey-pink in colour.
My first guess was red spider mites but there was no fine silky web that supported my theory and they are all different in size which rules out adult female mites.
After a lengthy search in books and the internet and the use of a hallmark magnifying glass, I came to the conclusion that they were actually aphids.
The peach potato aphid came closest to the description. If anyone thinks otherwise please give us your thoughts because I'm still not sure.
I washed them off as you do but panicked when more started emerging and crawling up from the base of the stalks. My poor parsley was swiftly quarantined to the back yard before the pests crossed the line and plagued the rest of my indoor crop.
The mind boggles as to how they got to my plants indoors. It could have been on one occasion I sat them all out in the warm sunshine on the garden table, or when I bought some ready potted ones from the local garden centre.
Or one may have just flew into the house through the kitchen window. Aphids will grow wings and fly off to start new colonies when space gets a little overcrowded.
There's a lesson to be learned here! However they do it, they find their way in to be sure! So be prepared on how to deal with them as quickly as possible.
Ladybird and lacewing larvae and adult ladybirds are great for your herb garden. They dine ferociously on aphids of all sorts.
For greenhouse and indoor infestations the lacewing larvae will go to town as an effective aphid control before they enter their next life cycle and turn into lacewings escaping through an open windows.
So don't be afraid to let them loose on your plants. I love the presence of lacewings. They look beautiful and delicate so I don't mind them in my home.
You can buy vials filled with ladybird and lacewing larvae from some local garden centres or online but you need to free them as soon as they arrive. They are live creatures and will not survive being cooped up.
Try keeping your growing space clean and tidy. Sweep up often. Ventilate the greenhouse if you own one and let the friendly predators in.
Rinse with water but not with soap! The soap can kill the good bugs too, could burn your plants, and make you sick after you've eaten them.
Environmentally Friendly Soaps
A product I use which I have found to be a very effective aphid control if you use it properly is SB Plant Invigorator and Bug Killer.
It`s a soap that is environmentally friendly, and designed for plants. It works by striping an insect of its protective coating and so they loose water. It also has a detrimental effect on cell membranes that causes them to die.
What I like about this stuff is that it also feeds the leaves of the plants. What I have noticed is that when plants are being attacked by aphids and other insects they become very nutrient and chlorophyll deficient turning them a pale colour with a very dull and drab appearance.
SB has a leaf feed which makes the plants perk up and in a matter of a week or two they are looking quite healthy. But you need to make sure you spray under the leaves as well as on top thoroughly.
How I manage to spray them thoroughly underneath is by circling the stalk with my thumb and forefinger at the base and gently pulling all the leaves through my hand spraying the back of them as they pop through. Wear gloves if you want to try this method. It works!
You probably want to know if it is safe to use on edible plants like herbs. Yes! And you don`t need to worry about spraying near harvest time either.
Well I have heard of some homemade solutions without soap that sound like they could work. One is a garlic, onion, cayenne pepper and water. The other is vinigar and water solution from a facebook friend.
Method for the garlic, onion, and cayenne:
Peel 1 medium onion and 2 garlic cloves. Place them in a blender with 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper and 3 cups of water and blend. Leave to stand overnight, strain and spray with a vengence!
Method for the vinigar solution:
Mix 1 part vinigar with 2 parts water and spray.
I will try both and post here which works the best.
Well I wasn`t too impressed with the onion, garlic and cayenne pepper solution.
I sprayed indoor parsley, chervil, coriander and basil in February which all had aphids on them. Most perished but I think it was due to drowning than anything else.
Before the week was out they were back as bad as ever.
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