Indoor aphid issues, help!

deebo82(8 Puget Sound/WA)July 13, 2010

Hi! I have been battling aphids on my indoor container garden (tomatoes, lettuce, peppers, cukes, eggplant, and herbs, yum!), but am looking for a better solution! I have been using a neem oil spray and a soap spray recommended by a friend which seem to work OK, but the aphids have been getting worse lately. They murdered my cilantro and pea plants, and have migrated basically everywhere else (small confined area), so I've been wondering if anyone has any other solutions for this kind of situation... I've considered enlisting a few ladybugs to the cause, but am a little wary of bringing more insects inside (ladyfriend might freak). Has anyone done anything like this? Do I have options other than always squishing and spraying aphids? Thanks for your help!

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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

Most Aphids much prefer the newer and lush green growth often caused by overfertilizing a plant so care in feeding those plants is one place to start. The Aphids you can see can be knocked ooff a plant with just a sharp water stream, although Insecticidal Soaps can be used with about as good results. Green Lacewings as well as the Lady Beetles (Bugs) can be used, but the will be adversly affected by even the Insecticidal Soaps. The information on Aphids from the IPM people at the University of California is fairly good but they seem to opt to using the extremely toxic sprays, Malathion for example, right away when that sharp water spray is just as good.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2010 at 12:51PM
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buylady(z5b IL)

Hi all, i have white flies is that the same as aphids?? i spay w/oils and dish soap..but gonna get me one of them spayers you hook onto hose for sure but i don't no what to buy so (want the stuff inside to be benifitial) so i can just have that spray container any one?? any help here thxxxxx

    Bookmark   July 14, 2010 at 1:45PM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

Whiteflies are relatives of both Aphids and Mealybugs, but the adults fly around. Yellow sticky traps can be used to trap the flying adults and Insecticidal Soaps can be sprayed on the leaves to aid in control of the nymphs. Whiteflies have started to develop immunities to many of the pesticides that are sold to control them.

Here is a link that might be useful: About Whiteflies

    Bookmark   July 15, 2010 at 6:37AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

I suspect that much of your problem has to do with the fact that your plants are being grown inside. You'd be surprised at the myriad of beneficial creatures lurking in the great outdoors that aid in pest control. Also, your plants are probably in fairly close proximity to each other, am I right? Gosh, there are lots of reasons why the indoor culture of veggies can be very challenging.

The release of beneficial insects inside the typical indoor environment is not a good idea, unless your 'indoors' is actually a spacious, sunny, and humid greenhouse.

What is the set-up you have for your veggies? Maybe if we knew more, we could better help you.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2010 at 12:10PM
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deebo82(8 Puget Sound/WA)

I do believe you're right... Unfortunately, I'm confined to a south-facing sunroom ("Florida room"? Basically an enclosed balcony) in a 1br apartment, so I've got no real option other than crowding.

I've got a set of herbs (chives, basil, thai basil, epazote, green shiso (perilla), sage, etc) in v. small pots (4") on the windowsill, a set of low shelves with some larger (~12") pots containing 3 tomato plants, a pair of 12"x24" planter boxes (peppers, eggplant, cucumbers), and a couple salad trays. They're all crowded together about as close as can be along a 10' window, sharing the sun. Most of the plants are touching other ones, which allows for easy movement of aphids from one to another, but space constraints (greed?) don't give much in the way of options. The small-potted herbs are mostly aphid-free, its the big ones that have the problems. Strong water spray is out, the big ones are not very mobile so can't move to shower (tomatoes are attached to the wall--don't ask why--and planter boxes are awkward and heavy) and carpet makes in-place spraying difficult.

I originally let things pretty much lie as they liked, but noticed my first batch of cilantro and snap peas completely COVERED with aphids and went into emergency spray mode. Things have mostly calmed down, and I've since mostly stopped spraying and have been hunting by hand under leaves, sometimes twice a day. However, this is all pretty high-maintenance, so was wondering if there's any middle ground between obsessively spraying/hunting and complete laissez faire letting the aphids have their way. Is once-weekly or biweekly spraying really a good option in an indoor aphid predator-free environment?

    Bookmark   July 15, 2010 at 10:38PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Well, the sunroom may not be a good place to grow lots of pest prone veggie plants and herbs. Something to think about for next year, anyway. Fewer plants would be so much easier to manage.

For your particular situation, I can only suggest that you keep on doing what you have been. Lots of squishing!

    Bookmark   July 15, 2010 at 11:37PM
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seishonagon(5)

I had the same problem last year. I ordered a little bag of ladybugs online, and sprinkled a few periodically onto my houseplants. (Ladybugs can be stored in hibernation in the fridge until you need them.) This year I've seen a few feral ladybugs here and there, but I think my cats snagged most of them.

Some people who are no fun will warn you about "ladybug infestations," but ignore those people. Ladybug infestations are inversely proportional to aphid problems.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2013 at 10:42AM
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calliope(6)

It's hard to control aphids inside once they get going. It also sets up the scene when plants are crowded, so it's better to grow on a smaller scale than lose everything, no? The very first thing you need to do is to make sure you don't take anyting in to your sunroom with an infestation. So many folks pot up some stuff from their garden and take them inside. They usually have 'hitchhikers'. Make sure anything you bring in is TOTALLY clean. You also need to look at the plants very closely. Aphids infestations if you are going to get them usually start at the tender tissues, like buds and newest growth. Nothing stops you from just pinching those out and removing the tissue and taking the stuff outside to dispose. It sure beats spraying. That's how I used to handle aphids in a greenhouse situation with plants I was wintering over and it certainly kept the populations under control. You can use soapy water on a cotton ball with gloved hands to also bathe large leaf areas and wash them off physically but also allow enough of the soapy water remaining on the leaf to dessicate the ones you might miss. I've found if I notice a particularly infested plant, and need to treat it, it works best if I can just remove that plant from the environment BEFORE it spreads to the other plants and then treat it and leave it away from the other plants a few days to make sure I got them all. It doesn't have to have the optimal sun and temps for a few days. Even a mud-room or heated garage will do.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2013 at 7:11PM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

The simplest, and least toxic, method of control of Aphids on plants is a strong stream of water to knock the wee buggers off the plant. Keep in mind that Aphids are attracted to lush, new growth and can be an indication the affected plant is being fed too much Nitrogen.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2013 at 6:47AM
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