Help! Infestation. What is it?

dfaustclancyJune 15, 2013

Mornin Fellow Gardeners,
I need your help! I am attaching a photo that clearly shows the giant infestation I am having on my heliopsis. The little larvae/mites/suckers are bright red and totally cover the entire stem on most of the heliopsis, summer sun. My first thought is red spider mites. Not sure, and not sure how to get rid of them. I have been wiping them off, shaking them off, spraying them off and about to use neem. First I would like to know what they are. I have searched the net, and haven't found anything similar. I'm relying on you guys. This is the first season I have EVER seen anything like this. Normally the heliopsis is the most healthy of all the plants. Even though they are covered (and I mean covered) by these, they still appear to be ready to bloom. Mystifying. Any comments, ideas, suggestions? All welcome. Thanks. Debra

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I cant see them clearly enough - but I once had tons of small, mostly red, unfamiliar looking bugs all over; a spray can of pesticide in my hand, and decided to check once more on line - very glad I waited... it turned out I had a massive hatching of lady bugs.

It's hard to find the photos on line, but try google images.

You're smart to not spray until you have an ID, you might be glad you waited too.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2013 at 11:05AM
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I think mine were redder than the ones at this link, but it's a start.

Oops, GW won't let me link to the site, but I did a Google Image search on juvenile lady bug and came up with a posting on another forum site, called Ladybug stages.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2013 at 11:10AM
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Hot damn! If they are ladybugs I am in Hog Heaven! I'll try searching for photos of those!

    Bookmark   June 15, 2013 at 11:33AM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

deb, it may be just 'damn'. Check out this link and see if they are red aphids which love heliopsis.


Here is a link that might be useful: Red Aphids on Heliopsis

    Bookmark   June 15, 2013 at 12:19PM
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My first thought also was aphids. A strong stream from the hose directly on them will remove most of them, and I have had success with a follow-up spray made of a mix of water, onions, and garlic, blenderized and then filtered, and then a few drops of mild soap added before spraying to keep the bugs' return to a minimum.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2013 at 3:46PM
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Thanks everyone. Dear Jane, It's Damn all right, x 3. I jet-sprayed each stem backwards, forwards, underneath, of which number in the hundreds in my garden. Oy, my aching back. I was like a fiend scrubbing and jetting. This morning, some are back. I don't think I missed them, but who knows. There were a LOT of stems. So today I'm taking a break. But tomorrow I plan to re-wash and then do the water, onions, garlic + soap after filtering suggested my nhbabs above. I am also buying the diotamaceous earth because I love the idea of those little bugs getting cuts all over their bodies.... Muah.. ha ha ha! Amazing how fighting bug infestations turns you into a mad scientist with bulging eyes and visible pulsing veins in your forehead. I am on a mission to save my heliopsis. Me against the bug world. Who you rooting for????

    Bookmark   June 16, 2013 at 8:40AM
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Yeah, I think they're red aphids. I had them on my heliopsis one year and simply squashed them and sprayed them with water. They didn't come back but they are disgusting.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2013 at 11:20AM
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littleonefb(zone 5, MA)

In the past, I've purchased containers of ladybugs from Mahoney's take care of a serious aphid infestation on my lupins.

If I remember correctly, I paid about $9 for a container that had at least 100 lady bugs in it, if not more.

Just followed the instructions for letting them out and presto, within 3 days the aphids where gone. So where the ladybugs too, or so I thought. Couldn't find a one anywhere around my gardens.
They had taken a trip next door and across the street to feed there.

A couple of weeks later, ladybugs where flying around the yard, little ones, so apparently the ones I purchased did some mating before they flew off for "greener pastures and feeding".

I purchased the ladybugs 2 years in a row and haven't had to do so since, as the ladybugs just seem to know, now, to "come on back, the food is waiting for them."


    Bookmark   June 16, 2013 at 2:38PM
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Just be careful to wear respiratory protection when working with diatomaceous earth or your lungs will have the same damage as the aphids if you inhale any.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2013 at 10:02PM
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littleonefb and nhbabs - good info.

Yeah, I don't think my lungs need any more lacerations than they already have! I will be careful. Thanks!

    Bookmark   June 17, 2013 at 8:22AM
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I did an experiment on my aphid infestation. One side of the garden I sprayed with a solution of garlic powder/dawn/olive oil/tobasco sauce(hahahahah!)/water and the other side a mixture of neem with water. The garlic solution worked the best! It did leave their blackened dead bodies all over the stems of the plants with maybe one or two of the hardier aphids still crawling around.

The tobasco sauce was my own little idea -- evil, ain't I??? I just couldn't resist. They should call this solution Gardener's Revenge! Muah hahahahaha! Can't you just imagine ALL of those little proboscis (or are they proboscii??) getting their first taste of tobasco? Yeah, baby! Woo Hoo. Feel so much better. Whew. Now I can light a cigarette. hahahaha

    Bookmark   June 29, 2013 at 9:29AM
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Glad it worked. It's always fun to try alternatives. I started using the garlic mix back in college (and we won't talk about how long ago that was) when our organic garden had an infestation of aphids. I don't think I've had bad enough aphids since to need it.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2013 at 10:53AM
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Too funny, Debra!

    Bookmark   June 29, 2013 at 2:18PM
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capecodder(z6 MA)

I have these darn aphids on my heliopsis this year for the first time ever. Using the hose didn't do a thing, and I broke down and bought spray Sevin, carefully spraying only the heliopsis stems...that barely slowed them down. Now I'm using dish detergent/oil/water and it seems to be helping.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2014 at 9:52AM
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I feel your pain. In my garden a solution of: garlic powder/dawn/olive oil/tabasco sauce worked well overnight. It's organic and won't hurt anything else. (dogs/cats) Can you post a close up photo?

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 7:45PM
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