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cwydro Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-15-09 10:07 AM
Original message
Need organic insecticide help!
Any south Florida gardeners out there?

Aphids are running riot on my firebush. They are then followed by tiny black ants.

I read once that vodka mixed with water in a spray bottle will work. Anybody know?
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Arkansas Granny Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-15-09 11:23 AM
Response to Original message
1. I have never tried this, but it is organic and sounds like it should work.
A recipe for a home remedy to get rid of aphids
1 cup vegetable or white mineral oil
1 1/2 cup water
2 teaspoons dish soap or Murphys soap

Spray this homemade aphid control mixture on the aphids every few days until the aphids recede. This home remedy to get rid of aphids will suffocate the aphids.

http://www.gardeningknowhow.com/problems/homemade-aphid...

They also have some other methods of controlling aphids on that page that you might find helpful.
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cwydro Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-15-09 11:50 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. Thank you!
I'll give that a try today!
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Lone_Star_Dem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-15-09 12:01 PM
Response to Original message
3. The ants are farming the aphids
Edited on Fri May-15-09 12:04 PM by Lone_Star_Dem
They have a sweet tooth and do it to get the sweet honeydew the aphids secrete. It's really rather an amazing relationship.

What I do is mix boric acid with some confectioners sugar and set out bait traps for the ants. It works like a charm on the ants. After you've gotten rid of the ants you can just spray off the plants that have aphids with a brisk dousing from the hose. Without the ants to carry the aphids around they're very slow and doing this once a day will keep them from reaching the tender tips they so love.

Be VERY careful using any oil based insecticidal soaps on your plants in your zone. It's really easy to burn the foliage with those and the sun and heat make it all the more likely.


Edit to add: If you're in a real hurry you can dust some DE )(Diatomaceous Earth) around under the plant, but know it will kill all the insects that pass through it.
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cwydro Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-15-09 12:37 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. That's what my mom said.
She was just down visiting and telling me all about the ant/aphid relationship. Quite fascinating.

Tell me this, is Sevin dust something that is bad for butterflies or other living critters that I do NOT want to hurt?
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Lone_Star_Dem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-15-09 01:39 PM
Response to Reply #4
5. Sevin dust is very bad for butterflies
Edited on Fri May-15-09 01:41 PM by Lone_Star_Dem
Also, lady bugs, beneficial mites (the ones that prey on the bad mites), praying mantis, lacewings and all forms of bees, just to mention a few. It's really nasty stuff and should never be used in a butterfly garden.

If you feel you really need to spray an insecticide, I'd suggest a spinosad based product. It will kill the caterpillars, but it's said to be safer on adult butterflies and many other beneficial insects.

Edit to add: I want to suggest not using a spinosad product on a butterfly host plant as it's a sure way to stop the butterfly cycle.
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cwydro Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-15-09 02:08 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. Oh no no no,
I don't want to kill butterfies or caterpillars. Almost everything in my garden is a butterfly plant. I have never used Sevin, but someone had told me it was mostly harmless. I doubted that and I'm glad I did.

This is why I am looking for organic methods. Hell, I don't really like to kill anything, though I'm ready to ring those aphids' little necks if I ever could (and if they had necks, lol!)

Thanks so much for your suggestions.

My jatropha is showing signs of scale all of a sudden; same methods for that, do you think?
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Lone_Star_Dem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-15-09 10:38 PM
Response to Reply #6
8. Scale can be a bit tougher
If it's just now showing signs I'd suggest scraping off the adults (the ones in the waxy casings) and squishing them. Spinosad actually does kill the immature scales, only spray it on the infestation NOT the whole plant. The best control is to spray your plants down in the early spring or winter (when they're still dormant) with a nice horticultural oil. That's what I have to do with my roses here. How I hate scale! In this case an insecticidal soap or a nice neem based product is really your best weapon. Spray (infested areas only!) when temps are at their lowest (evening) and hose the plant off before the sun and heat hits them again in the morning. These products will burn in our climates!

Now, I know you don't want to hear this, but if the infestation is bad enough sometimes the best way to deal with it is to prune (don't faint on me!) the infected (adult) scale away and bring in some extra predators (oldier beetles, lady bugs, etc.).

Ack! Scale is the one vermin I still shudder to deal with. Really, a nice dormant oil in the winter is the best defense you have against it in a healthy butterfly garden.
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cwydro Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-16-09 10:12 AM
Response to Reply #8
9. Thank you!
That's a lot of great information.

I have a fairly large garden but the scale and the aphids seem to just target certain individual plants. I have 3 firebush, but only one with aphids. The aphids have been starting on my hibiscus too. Grrrr.
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dgibby Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-15-09 05:53 PM
Response to Original message
7. Ladybugs LOVE aphids!
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cwydro Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon May-18-09 07:21 AM
Response to Reply #7
10. I do have some ladybugs,
but I guess I should look into buying some.
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