Lupins, aphids, ugh

ianna(Z5b)May 29, 2012

My lupines are growing lovely each day. Yesterday though I noticed one plant with many flowers bent as if they were broken deliberately. I couldn't understand it because no other nearby plant was affected. Then I started noticing strange white specks on the leaves. On closer inspection I discovered thousands of aphids.. I mean really fat large aphids. Never seen it in this numbers before and maybe it's the weather. Out came my only 'green' pesticide bottle and I've been spraying away. Ugh.. They infested the entire plant and all the nearby lupins.

Has anyone else experienced strange infestations? I thought aphids will go to my roses but never expected they would gravitate to lupins.

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Haven't noticed significant insect invasion so far. Maybe I'd better do a more thorough walk-around and check the hollyhocks and roses. What do you use for a "green" pesticide. A friend was asking me about this just yesterday but I don't have much luck with them. I told her soap and water in a spray bottle. Do you buy a specific brand of pesticide?

    Bookmark   May 30, 2012 at 9:55AM
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Our province of Ontario started banning pesticides and herbicides but allowed the use of 'safe' forms of pesticides. There are many in the market here but the one I used is Scott's Eco sense pesticide.

My poor lupins are gone. By the time I came home yesterday, the aphids that were still alive sucked up all the nutrients of the plant causing the blooms to dry up. I swear I've never seen aphids multiply this fast before. The relatively small infestation in another plant just about exploded yesterday. I have to continue spraying til they are all gone. I just noticed a number of white flies and a number of aphids just starting to infest my roses. GGR.

Mind you I am very careful about these pesticides. If it can kill creatures, it can certainly harm us.

Here is a link that might be useful: 'green' pesticides.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2012 at 10:53AM
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docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)

I had a terrible infestation of aphids on my lupins this year, also. I actually transplanted them from one house to a new one, and they still bloomed beautifully. But, half way through the bloom period they exploded with fat, whitish aphids. I sprayed them roughly with the hose and removed all the visible bugs, but by the next day they were covered again. Now they look pretty bedraggled. I would just cut them back and see if they make it next year, but I'm hoping for a few seeds. There are a few very small seed pods forming, so maybe I'll get lucky. I think they need more sun, as well. Good luck with yours.


    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 4:06PM
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cziga(Zone 5 -Toronto)

The first plant I ever saw aphids on was a lupine of mine. There were hundreds, and the plant didn`t make it.

I think they`ve been multiplying every year for the last several ... I`ve seen a lot already, all over lupines and roses mostly so far this year. I`m not sure why there are so many more but I also spray with a `green` pesticide that has mixed results. I`m trying a new one this year that a friend of mine came up with. Its not widely available. I`m crossing my fingers but I hate that they seem to be multiplying every year :(

    Bookmark   June 1, 2012 at 1:21AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

I almost skipped over this thread, because I thought, lupine & aphids, sure. Lupine are magnets in my garden for aphids. And I really don't mind at all, because I sort of get excited now when I see aphids, because aphids are a magnet for ladybugs and I want to attract those to my garden.

I am an organic gardener and thought long and hard about using chemicals in the garden when I first started gardening over 30 years ago. And everything I've seen and read since then has convinced me that was the right choice. I have pets, I need bees and I don't want to worry about what I am exposing myself or my family to and that is before I even think about the consequences to the environment. And I've come to distrust companies that label their products as 'green'. And really having to 'investigate' every product to figure out if it really is safe is too much trouble and in the end, I still just don't trust manufacturers any more.

There are always other options, that sometimes take a little more time or effort. Or in the case of aphids, ignoring them when they don't look so great for awhile. But I can do that fairly easily because after years of organic growing, my garden is in more balance then someone using chemicals.

For instance, I saw aphids on my roses about 2 weeks ago and just ignored them and now I see none. The same thing happened to me last year. About a week after I saw my first aphid, I saw my first ladybug and then a week later, I didn't see any more aphids.

If some bug is really getting to me, I try to use other methods. If I have to I'll spray the aphids off every day with the hose. One year I had a bad infestation of earwigs of all things that ate all my basil and echinacea every night. I never saw them in the daytime and took me awhile to figure out what was going on. Then someone suggested I go out at night with a flashlight and sure enough I could see a lot of them and I just flicked them into soapy water every night. That was about 5 years ago and haven't seen an earwig infestation since then. And I get Red Lily Leaf Beetles that drive me crazy, but they are so easy to see they are bright red and I put about 6 inches of water in a 5 gallon pot and hold it under the foliage and knock them into it and that method has been very effective. I used to make my own spray in the blender, garlic, sometimes a little red pepper flake, and a few drops of soap and strained it w cheesecloth and then used that in a spray bottle and that worked pretty well to keep foliage free of damage and didn't kill any bees. But I haven't used that in years.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2012 at 3:08AM
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I had bad aphid infestations about 6 weeks ago on roses (even the knockouts) daylily foliage, clematis and I'm sure I'm leaving something out. I don't remember having aphid problems like this in the past. There were bazillions of them. Was it the mild winter? Then, we had a hot spell and they all disappeared.

Prairie, I'm anti-chemical as well, but not a complete purist. I just use them very sparingly and infrequently. I did end up zapping the aphids with some soap spray.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2012 at 9:45AM
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I'm so glad someone else has noticed.....OMG - those aphids are EVERYWHERE!!!! I haven't noticed them on the lupines, but I have them all over the spirea and the MILLIONS of them!!

And I have tons of ladybugs too, but they just can't keep up!

    Bookmark   June 1, 2012 at 8:41PM
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Oh yes, we have them! Our poor river birch is under serious attack. Every year it gets some, but it's usually later in the season, when predatory wasps are around to control their population. This year, due to the warm weather in March, the aphids got a head start. My husband wants to use "chemical warfare"; I made a deal with him that I can have one week to use non-chemical methods to get rid of the aphids. If the situation isn't notably better in one week, we'll use limited chemical treatment to save the tree.

So, yesterday I was out in the rain blasting the leaves with a strong spray of water. The neighbors probably thought I'd lost it!

    Bookmark   June 1, 2012 at 8:59PM
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cziga(Zone 5 -Toronto)

I have NOT noticed an increase in ladybugs to keep up with the aphids ... maybe they are just behind :) I would just leave them alone but there are so many this year that I'm worried for the health of the plants that they infest. Sometimes they'll just kill a stem or rosebud ... but this year they swarm a flower, kill it, then move on ... I think I have to try to do something and I don't always have time every day to go out there and blast them with a hose. Hence the "green" treatment to see if I can get it under control a little bit. There really are so many more than there used to be ...

    Bookmark   June 3, 2012 at 12:29AM
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sorry I'm late getting back into this discussion. The way I figure it, the aphids have managed to elude the pesticide spraying because they've been hiding under the large umbrella like leaves. I have to believe this has to do with our mild winter, and hot humid spring. I've not seen many lady bugs around here. I recall a time -some 7 years or so ago when our city was swarmed with aphids. or at least i thought they were aphids. They were tiny, same shape, flying in such large numbers that it looked like the sky was green. Does anyone in Toronto recall this phenomenon? So very weird...

gardening musician -- river birch.. Gosh I never ever thought aphids would attack a birch! That's a first for me.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2012 at 4:25PM
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apparently aphids do not like the smell of lemon
I use 1 gallon of water and about 1/2 cup lemon juice and then use about 4 tblsp of lemon scented sunlight soap.

They multiply really fast and my lady bugs are not keeping up. Remember when you use this they will leave the lupin but .... where will they go?

This does not kill anything.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2013 at 5:55PM
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Oh I forgot about this thread. In the end, I had to kill off the remaining lupins. I just couldn't hack the humongous number of aphids. Just totally ick...

    Bookmark   June 6, 2013 at 2:35PM
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docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)

My Lupines died from their infestation. I don't use any pesticides, but it certainly is disheartening to lose plants you've invested so much time and energy in. I was at my sister's today, who is completely organic and raises bees and chickens and should have a nice balance of beneficial critters. But, she had a simply horrid aphid infestation on one of her native wild flower plants. I don't remember what the plant was, but it was several feet tall and five feet wide with hundreds of leaves, and every leaf was covered in aphids. There were actually two layers of the bugs. One was a layer of maybe 30 large aphids per leaf standing somewhat out from the leaf. And underneath those were hundreds of almost microscopic babies. Once those babies reach adult size, there won't be anything left of that huge, beautiful plant. And there were far too many to try to hose them off. I'm even more afraid they'll move on to other plants. I'm sure my sister will just leave them, but it is hard to watch your plant fade so quickly.


    Bookmark   June 8, 2013 at 9:23PM
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Martha, oh that's horrible. Makes me want to do something but can't. So far my one lupine plant has not been infested yet. Where do these aphids come from? Organically, one uses those lady bugs to eat these aphids but I heard that there's a problem with those lady bugs specially bred for this purpose. (you can mail-order these). Something about them killing off local populations of lady bugs.. So I don't know why this is happening....

    Bookmark   June 10, 2013 at 3:50PM
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I'm sorry for both of you suffering this way with aphids. Makes me wonder whether I'll see similar infestations in years to come. I've really enjoyed my winter sown lupines this year, both the ones I've planted in my own beds as well as those I planted (with permission) in my next-door neighbor's bed. It's the first year they've really thrived and produced such lovely, stunning blooms. I had hoped to enjoy them for many years to come now that the plants are well established.

Martha - I know you're in the upper Midwest but something tells me aphids are more a universal plague than a regional one. Well, what will happen, will happen whether or not I choose to dream or wish it away, but should the worst occur, I'll definitely miss those lovely, early season blooms when we gardeners enjoy the hard-won first fruits of our botanical efforts.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2013 at 7:21PM
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