July 2, 2006
A is for Aphid
Yesterday was a big day bugwise. I already knew I had flea beetles but, another gardener a few plots over mentioned that he had aphids on his zucchini, tomato and pepper plants so I decided to hunt for them on mine. Sure enough, I found a little nasty gathering of them on a tomato plant. You can see in the picture (look closely) that there is also some kind of white bug there too. Anyone know what that is? According to my excellent bug book they look a little like whiteflies but, I don't think whiteflies hang out on the undersides of leaves the way aphids do. I'm a little concerned that they are beneficial and were in the process of making a meal of the aphids and I ruined it. I hope I'm wrong.
Bug stuff is really interesting but, knowing what's good to leave alone is tricky. I tend to err on the side of leaving things alone unless I find it in a menacing cluster or know that its a bad guy. The superhero bugs seem to travel solo.
Speaking of which. I have hardly seen a single bee this summer and I haven't seen ONE ladybug. When are they getting here? Is it too hot? Has there been too much rain? What's the deal? In fact, I am a tiny bit worried now that killing the aphids myself makes my plot less attractive to ladybugs (they eat aphids by the way).
Anyway, I took out my spray bottle, filled it part of the way with water and then added a tiny bit of very mild soap (Dr. Bronner's Peppermint) and then spritzed the heck out of any leaves where I saw aphids.
In my search I also found what I'm pretty sure was a cabbageworm. It was hanging out on a brussel sprout leaf which gave me the tip off. I hesitated for only a second before I removed him from his hiding place BAREHANDED!
I still have those annoying flea beetles. They've mutilated the arugula and are now working on the kale and collard greens so...I spritzed them a couple times too. How much of this spritzing does it take? It seems to me that once the water dries all these bugs will happily carry on as they were. I might go spray again later today but, it might be an exercise in sysiphean futility.
Things still keep getting bigger though and despite the occasional aphid my tomato plants seem very happy. Oh and I now have a daylily!! Its even prettier than I expected!
P.S. All this bug identifying business makes me want a magnifying glass. Yes, I am a geek.