Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Something Bugging You?

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Something Bugging You?

Article excerpt

Late June is a wonderful time of the gardening year - my home plot is full of flowers and lush green growth. However, among the spectacular displays, there's still work to be done.

Inspecting my borders the other evening I came across foliage which was twisted, blistered and deformed. I turned over a couple of affected leaves and found the culprits - an extended family of aphids had moved in.

Aphids come in a number of shades. There is the classic greenfly, there are creamy-yellow coloured aphids, pink ones (which are quite pretty to look at), black ones, even woolly ones, to name but a few.

They all reproduce prolifically and if you neglect to notice the beginnings of a colony they may have produced a number of generations before you spot the damage. Plants commonly affected by them generally have a lot of soft green growth.

At this time of the year aphids will be emerging and multiplying in huge numbers on lime trees. Aphids exude a sugary, sap-like excretion which will make the ground sticky and discoloured underneath. If there are plants underneath they tend to get a sooty mould growing on the honeydew.

But many other plants can also be affected. Recently I noticed a Choisya ternata had blackening leaves which appeared to be dying.

Choisyas are normally robust shrubs but this was covered in a sooty mould and the honeydew was coming from aphids on an overhanging lime tree.

Aphids not only distort and stunt young growth and cause secondary problems such as sooty mould - they can also be a disease carrier as they move from one plant to another. Because they are sap-sucking insects they can carry viruses or bacteria to the next plant.

It is very tempting to pop into a garden centre or hardware shop, buy a chemical insecticide and spray them into oblivion. But insecticides should really be avoided as they will often kill other beneficial insects, including those which eat aphids.

If you wish to spray aphids, just use a liquid made up of soft soap and warm water. …

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