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A Gardener's Guide to Aphids | Greenleaf Organic Pest Management

Posted by Mark A. Puglisi, ACE on Wed, Apr 11, 2018 @ 09:11 AM

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A Gardener's Guide to Aphids

For many homeowners, gardening is more than a hobby or a way to increase the aesthetic appeal of their property. It is a therapeutic release and a way to escape from the rigors of everyday life. Both diehard gardeners and those who only keep a few potted plants in the backyard have an enemy in common: aphids.

Aphids are small insects that can have a huge impact on the health and appearance of your garden. Here is some valuable information about aphids, including how to get rid of these pests.

What Are Aphids?

Although they are small, aphids can cause some serious damage to your garden and landscape. An adult aphid is typically one-eighth of an inch in length. Many gardeners believe that aphids are either green or white. Aphids can actually be several different colors, including black, orange, yellow, and gray. There are wingless and winged adult aphids, as well.

Most adult aphids do not have wings. However, if you have an abundance of aphids in your garden or landscape, some of them will grow wings to find a new food source.

Aphids also have antennae and a large, sucking facial appendage they use to remove the nutrients from plants.

What Are the Signs of an Aphid Infestation?

In addition to spotting these tiny insects on your indoor and outdoor plants, there are other signs of an aphid infestation, including:

  • The leaves of the plants will begin to wilt and turn yellow or brown. Eventually, they will fall off. This occurs because the aphids drink the nutrients that the plants need to thrive.
  • A sticky substance called honeydew will cover the leaves and stalks of the plant. This substance is secreted by aphids when they land on plants.
  • Other insects, particularly ants, will be attracted to your garden because of the high sugar content of the honeydew secreted by the aphids. If you notice an abundance of ants in your garden, the issue might be an aphid infestation.

The sweet honeydew also creates the ideal environment for the proliferation of sooty mold fungus. The fungus is black and when it spreads, and it will make it difficult for plants to soak up nutrients from the sun.

Aphids are not only an annoyance, they are also very dangerous for your plants.

What Impact Can Aphids Have on Vegetable Gardens?

If you have a vegetable garden in your backyard, it is just as vulnerable to aphid attacks as your plants and flowers. In addition to the damage caused by the secretion of honeydew and the loss of nutrients, aphids also carry a variety of lethal plant viruses that can destroy your vegetable garden.

For example, aphids will carry a virus called sweet potato feathery mottle virus, which affects sweet potatoes. Squash, pumpkins, zucchini, and watermelon are susceptible to the papaya ringspot virus, zucchini yellow mosaic virus, and the watermelon mosaic virus.

Even if there isn't a widespread aphid infestation in your garden, your vegetables may still not be safe from these viruses. It only takes a handful of aphids and a few minutes to spread any of the above-mentioned viruses, which can destroy your backyard garden very quickly.

How Can You Keep Aphids Out of Your Garden?

The most effective way to prevent aphids from destroying your flowers, indoor plants, and vegetable garden is to keep them off your property. One of the simplest ways to prevent aphids from entering your garden is to introduce a natural predator: the ladybug. Ladybugs will consume aphids, and you can either introduce them into your garden or plant flowers and other foliage that attracts ladybugs.

Ladybugs are attracted to several types of plants, herbs, and vegetables, including parsley, calendula, common yarrow, butterfly weed, and bachelor button.

If you're planning to plant a new garden or introduce potted plants into your home, make sure that the chosen area or the plants inside your home aren't already harboring an aphid infestation. If so, you will need to get rid of the existing aphids before you introduce any new plants or vegetables.

How Can You Get Rid of an Aphid Infestation?

The method you use to get rid of the aphids in your garden or indoor plants is dependent upon the degree of the infestation. If the infestation is localized, such as in a single indoor plant or a small patch of garden, you may be able to get rid of the aphids and their eggs with your garden hose or an insecticidal soap.

However, if the infestation is widespread or you aren't able to control the smaller infestation on your own, contacting a professional is the best option. A professional can help you get rid of the aphids in your garden and provide you with the tools and knowledge to ensure that aphids don't return.

Aphids are a common problem that can be eliminated with the help of a professional. If you have any further questions, contact Greenleaf Organic Pest Management.

Tags: garden

Get the Scoop on Gophers and Moles

Posted by Mark A. Puglisi, ACE on Fri, Feb 03, 2017 @ 07:48 AM

 

Your yard is your pride and joy. You take great care in mowing and watering your lawn. You strike the right balance of trees, shrubs, and flowers when designing your garden. And you've mastered when to prune, fertilize, and mulch the plants on your property.

So when you spot suspicious mounds near your hydrangeas or unsightly ridges near your driveway, you can't help but feel frustrated at the damage. Naturally, you want to remove the source as quickly as possible.

But before you take matters into your own hands, take a few minutes to identify whether you have a gopher or a mole tearing into your yard. These commonly confused pests require different removal and trapping methods. If you use the wrong technique or product, you may cause even more damage to your yard and leave it vulnerable to future infestations.

Here are the easiest ways to spot the difference between a gopher and a mole.

Appearance

Both gophers and moles spend a great deal of time underground, so you might not catch a good look at either of your furry invaders. However, if you do happen to glance their way, you'll quickly notice the following features.

Moles

Moles have pointed, hairless muzzles and potato-shaped bodies. Their eyes are tiny, and at a distance, moles look like they don't have any eyes at all. They do not have any external ears, and their fur completely covers their ear canals. Moles also have large, broad forefeet, and they use their webbed toes like flippers as they swim through the soil.

Gophers

Gophers have bulging cheeks and rounded snouts that end in prominent teeth. They have flat heads and stocky bodies. Though they have small eyes and ears, you can usually distinguish these facial features from the rest of their fur. Gophers have long claws on their forefeet that help them dig and push through the soil.

Digging Patterns

Even if you never see the moles or gophers in your yard, you can still identify the pest based on the damage they cause in your yard. Although gophers and moles dig tunnels, each one uses a different technique to build their home and search for food.   

Moles

When moles aren't foraging for food, they excavate their tunnels by pushing dirt straight above them. If their tunnels are close to the surface, they'll create conical, volcano-shaped mounds. Although molehills vary in size, most of them will have a uniform appearance.

Oftentimes, mole tunnels stay close to a solid object, so look for ridges and trails near your driveway, lawn border, or house foundation. These surface tunnels have little or no support from the surrounding soil, so they'll collapse if you step on them.

Gophers

Gophers dig deeper than moles, creating tunnels and homes nearly six feet under the soil. As a result, you likely won't see any surface ridges or trails in your yard. When gophers exit to seek a mate or find food, they come to the surface at an angle, creating an irregular fan- or crescent-shaped mound. To prevent predators from invading their tunnels, gophers plug the hole at the top.

As gopher tunnels tend to be quite deep, the surrounding soil will lend structure and support to the holes. If you step on the mounds, they likely won't collapse as readily as molehills. 

Additional Identifiers

If you're still not sure whether you have a gopher or a mole digging through your yard, you can use the following details to identify your pest.

Moles

Moles are insectivores, and they'll eat over half of their body weight in bugs and grubs daily. Consequently, many moles will focus on eating the most insects possible and leave your plants alone. But due to the nature of their digging, moles can damage plant roots by creating air pockets around the plants, and more delicate flowers and plants will often die as a result.

If you see holes in the shadier, moist areas of your lawn (where insects often thrive), you may have a mole on your property.

Gophers

Gophers, in contrast, are strict vegetarians. They'll mostly feed on underground plant roots, though they will also nibble on new buds, leaves, and surface vegetation during the spring and summer months. Sometimes gophers will drag entire plants underground, and they'll quickly trim down any vegetation near their holes and mounds.

If you see wilting or dead plants in your garden, you likely have a gopher.

Do You Spot Either in Your Garden?

Once you know the difference between moles and gophers, you can take steps to remove either pest from your yard. Reach out to a pest control expert to discuss possible trapping and removal methods.

If you find that gophers and moles frequent your yard each year, don't hesitate to ask about landscaping techniques and prevention as well. You may need to reduce the insect population in your yard to avoid attracting moles, or you might need to use chicken wire baskets to protect your plants from gophers.  

 

Tags: pests, Moles, Gophers, garden