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Eco-friendly Aphid Control

The hot dry air in our homes during winter is tough on us and our houseplants, but it’s great for insects.  You may need to lend a hand this winter to keep your plants looking good.

Check plants regularly for signs of insects.  You may want to break out the hand lens or recruit a younger gardener with better eyesight. 

Check the upper and lower surfaces of leaves and stems for signs of aphids.  These small teardrop shaped insects suck plant juices, causing stippling, yellowing and browning of the leaves.  They secrete the excess as a clear sticky substance called honeydew.  A black fungus called sooty mold will occasionally develop on this sticky liquid.  The fungus feeds on the honeydew not the plant. Fortunately, controlling the aphids will help wash off and prevent the sooty mold.

Start treatment with a strong blast of water.  This dislodges and kills many of the aphids.  Follow with insecticidal soap or Neem.  These eco-friendly products are effective against the aphids yet safe for you, pets and children.  Repeat weekly as needed.

A bit more information: Put those multicolored Asian lady beetles hiding out in your house to work.  Place stray lady beetles on aphid-infested plants.  The beetles will eat the aphids, eliminating the need to spray the plants.

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