Getting Rid Of Aphids? What type do you have?
Standard top feeding aphids or root aphids. Now the standard aphids that live on the leaves are pretty easy to deal with, however, the root aphids are possibly the worst pests I’ve ever dealt with. Don’t worry though, there is a solution. I can tell you that few gardeners have found a way to get rid of these little rip off artists, but I have. Many people will tell you to just start over, but that is not necessary. Where there is a will, there is a way.
Aphids come in many colors
From red to yellow, black, and brown. They are soft bodied insects that suck the plant fluids through the stems, leaves, and in some cases, the roots. The problem with aphids, is that they reproduce asexually. This means they do not need a mate to produce offspring. Just one aphid in your garden will produce many more. They can produce as many as 80 offspring within a week so action must be taken fast to avoid total infestation.
Yellowing and curling of leaves is a common result of aphids feeding.
In the case of root aphids, you can lose half of your harvest simply because the plants cannot get the nutrients it needs to produce.
The top feeding aphids which eat leaves and stems can be easily dealt with. Topical pyrethrum sprays twice a week along with Doktor Doom pyrethrum bombs once a week should do the trick.
For you organic farmers, use Azamax.
This is a product which is basically concentrated neem oil. The main ingredient in neem oil that kills insects is called Azadirachtin. This has been extracted and is the primary killer in Azamax’s ingredients. AzaMax is an antifeedant and insect growth regulator which means that over time it causes the pests to become deformed and eventually die. You must have patience with this product but it really works.
Getting rid of Root Aphids
Root Aphids require much more attention to detail and are difficult to get rid of. You must be diligent and be prepared for a battle.
The first key is separation. Do not put new plants in with infected ones even if you think the problem is gone. If you have to create a new vegetation area for a while, then do it. In my experience, root aphids can only spread through water contact so new clones in with older plants is a bad idea. Cleanliness is key. Make sure you clean your trays and reservoirs out every week with 35% hydrogen peroxide.
You may see flying insects that resemble gnats
But these are flying aphids which are common with root aphids. These will fly around and get stuck in your flowers and are a pain to pick out when harvesting. Simply use yellow sticky traps to catch these guys. If they get out of hand you can also use a pyrethrum bomb or two.
As far as pesticides go, I tried every trick in the book and nothing worked until I talked with a grower who had success using pyrethrum in the form of a drench or dunk. This is the only thing that works. There is a product called Take Down that most shops carry. However they do not list a drench application so I have one that I have turned tons of growers onto and it works.
- Mix 2 oz. per gallon.
- Use a 5 gallon bucket filled with 3 gallons of the mixture.
- For soil, just water thoroughly.
- For hydro, take your plants and dunk the mediums for about 1 minute each. Then let them sit in the tray. After an hour, flood your tray while top watering from the reservoir to really flush them well.
- Finish by changing out your reservoir with brand new nutrients and water.
- Do this once a week when you normally change your water.
There is an even easier way but most shops do not carry the product. While talking to some shops in Hawaii, I came across a product called Evergreen. This is an industrial grade pyrethrum. It is 10 times stronger than Take Down. Unlike Take Down it does not have oil in the solution.
You also will use much less (2 ml. per gal.). This allows you to run it throughout the week in your reservoir without oily residue or cost to your pocket. Evergreen is by far the most efficient weapon that I have seen against root aphids and many growers have personally thanked me for the recommendation. However you may have to jump through some hoops to get it. I have heard the guys at S.D. Hydroponics know where to get it. Drop in and ask them.