Aphids are wreaking havoc on my cucumbers and melons

Justine66(10B)September 28, 2011

I have tried spraying my plants with water and spraying the back sides with a mixture of Dr Bronner's peppermint soap and water, but I can't get rid of the aphids and they are destroying my plants. (This battle has been going on for weeks.) I don't want to use anything that will harm beneficial insects. Does anyone have any suggestions? I am new to this. This is my second season with a garden and first season with cucs and melon. I'm about to give up on the melon plants because they looks so bad. The cucumbers are just starting to wilt w/ aphid infestation.

Thank you in advance for your reply.



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Only thing I use is Activated Compost tea, works a treat on ALL bugs.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2011 at 8:45PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Have you tried commercial insecticidal soap? The problem with the homemade stuff is that you really don't know how much to use. Too little or too much....not good. Another thing that GREATLY affects the efficacy of insecticidal soap (including homemade brews) is the pH of the water. This product works much better in a slightly acid range, worth putting a little bit of vinegar in the mixing water to test it. Do you know what the pH of your water is?

Adding 1 T. of plain vinegar (white) per gallon of water would be a good start and absolutely not cause any harm.

Are you using a strong enough water spray? It should be strong enough to knock aphids off without damaging the foliage.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2011 at 10:57PM
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I have not tried commercial insecticidal soap, yet. I don't know the pH of my water. I will try adding vinegar. Do you suggest I use just plain vinegar and water or do I use the soap, too? Also, when I was spraying with just plain water, I was afraid to spray too hard. Instead, I spray while at the same time, used my fingers to brush them off the leaves the best I can.
If I use a soap spray like I have been using, do I leave it on or must I rinse the leaves off afterward? I'm afraid I'll kill these plants because I really don't know what I'm doing.:(
I read about a tomato leaf spray for aphids. I am steeping leaves tonight, and will mix it in the morning and try it first. Have you ever heard of that, and do you know if it really works?

    Bookmark   September 28, 2011 at 11:26PM
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As you spray and knock off the Aphids you see, but then new generations appear that need the same treatment. I have seen many anecdotal reports about Tomato Leaf sprays with mixed results, but that may be worth a try.
Insecticidal Soaps can be effective, even home made, if mixerd properly and if the right materials are used. The active ingrediant in Insecticidal Soaps is the fatty acids that real soaps have and detergents do not. Many people, because they are permited to be labeled as soap, mistakingly use detergents which do more harm to plants then insects.
Mix 1 teaspoon of a real soap, animal fat or vegetable fat based, in 1 quart of water. If the plants leaves are whiteish you probably will need to rinse that soap film off
Aphids are attracted to plants, more often, with lush green growth, plants growing is soils with an excess of Nitrogen, or other nutrients out of balance.

Here is a link that might be useful: About Aphids

    Bookmark   September 29, 2011 at 6:16AM
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That was an excellent link on aphids. Thank you. And thanks for the advice. I laid in bed last night for hours thinking of how I'm going to get rid of these things!
The article mentioned ant control, too, which is something I had not previously done. Will do both and see if I can save my plants. If not, lesson learned for next year's plants.
Thanks again.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2011 at 8:59AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

justine, the vinegar is used to lower the pH of the water you use to put the insecticidal soap in. As I said, one of the reasons that people don't have good success with soap sprays is that the pH of the water is too high. Another reason is that they are using the wrong kind of soap for their home brews or at a rate that simply won't work.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2011 at 12:28PM
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Dan Staley

If that doesn't work, there are likely scores of threads on this board with recipes for insecticidal soap (IS).


    Bookmark   September 29, 2011 at 2:02PM
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Soap will kill the adults. Oil will kill the adults and eggs. Either way aphids fly well and are all around you and neither controls the new pests, so Aphids are a spray frequently type of pest. Both Soap and Oil will also kill predators, but only some and they have to be in the spray zone.
Are you sure that the wilt is not from Bacterial Wilt of Cucurbits, spread by striped Cucumber Beetle? Also I haven't had much success with the water spray method, I think they just wash off dry out and then crawl right back, but I may be doing it wrong for fear of damaging the leaves. Others seem to have success with this method so what do I know?

    Bookmark   September 29, 2011 at 5:36PM
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I'm pretty sure they are aphids. The ants are farming them like crazy.
I went out today and spent hours spraying each leaf with water spray. It seemed to reduce the numbers some.
I sprayed with soap and water next, but didn't get these messages until after so I didn't get the vinegar in the mix.
I am sure that I will be back at it tomorrow, anyway, and will add the vinegar then.
I tried making some tomato leaf spray, and sprayed a few leaves with that, but I'm not confident I did it right, and the aphids and ants didn't seem to care that I was spraying them with it.
I think my biggest mistake was that I let this problem get bigger than it should have. I think that if I had been more diligent in the beginning of the aphid infestation, I might have been able to keep a handle on it.
Live and learn, I guess.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2011 at 9:40PM
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Please tell me how much soap and what kind of soap and vinegar in gallon of water?

    Bookmark   July 25, 2014 at 7:20PM
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How much vinegar to use will depend on the pH of your water, you want the water to be near neutral or 7.0 on the pH scale.
You want about a 1 percent solution of soap in water or about 1 teaspoon per quart of water, or about 3 teaspoons per gallon of water. The soap you want is real soap, not detergents, soaps made by reacting animal of vegetable fats with lye as my grandmothers did in the early 1900's. Look at the label for the word "soap" if it is not there it is not soap. Proctor and Gamble does not put the word soap on that famous product they manufacture, but neither is detergent which it is.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2014 at 6:33AM
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Often my most effective aphid control is ant control. There are a variety of ant baits and sprays that can be used. Once the ants are under control, I find that the natural predators of the aphids have a much easier time controlling them since they are not having to defend themselves from the ants. Note that there are protein eating and sugar eating ants; you need to use a bait specific to the type of ant you are trying to control. There are lots of recipes online; I like a mix with boric acid, sugar and peanut butter.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2014 at 12:12PM
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