How to Maintain Hedges: DEALING WITH APHIDS (Part II)

Prevention and Cure
Unlike many garden pests, aphids have the disadvantage – for them – of being visible to the naked eye. This means they are more easily treated by non-chemical means…
• A strong spray of water will control an infestation, though repeated action will be required to eradicate it. Be careful, though, when spraying delicate foliage as the force of water can cause more damage than the aphids!
• If something with a little more oomph is required then try one of the non-chemical treatments like hot-pepper or garlic repellent sprays. Many organic proprietary brands are available
• Aphids have many natural predators including ladybirds, parasitic wasps and hoverfly and lacewing larvae. These are available to introduce to greenhouses, though will be of only minimal effectiveness outdoors. Unfortunately, thanks to evolution, aphids tend to go on the rampage before their predators have surfaced in sufficient numbers to trouble them
• If you can catch an infestation early, then they can be squished between finger and thumb!
• For the serious gardener with prize blooms or crops to protect, they can be covered with special netting – though this is somewhat drastic
For the non-organic gardener, there are many chemical solutions available. These synthetic sprays tend to be more effective and longer lasting than their natural counterparts but greater care should be taken when applying them……
• If you are applying the spray to edible plants, check the label carefully. Some sprays:
– Are not suitable for any edible plant
– Are only suitable for specified edible plants
– May require you to postpone harvesting for a day or more
– Can only be used a maximum number of times in a specified period
– Usage varies from plant to plant
But remember, unless you can cover the entire plant, any spray will be of limited effectiveness.
Is it worth the effort?
In the general scheme of things, aphids rarely kill a plant and, for the hedge gardener, are really no more than an occasional and unsightly nuisance. However, the sticky honeydew secreted by aphids attracts potentially more damaging sooty moulds and the insects can carry viral infections. So it is worth taking at least minimal action when they appear.