Bugs on zucchini plants

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Whether you buy them at the supermarket or grow them in your own garden, summertime’s glut of zucchini represents an embarrassment of riches. With the very best of intentions, it’s altogether too easy to load your refrigerator with more of the versatile squash than you can quickly use. When buying zucchini from the grocery store, look for a firm squash with a shiny or glossy skin. The softer the zucchini the more likely it is to be bad. Their useful storage life is typically a week or less, so it’s important to understand and recognize signs of spoilage in zucchini.

Recognizing Spoiled Zucchini

Lift the bag of squash from your refrigerator and hold it up so you can see the zucchini through the bag. If they’re visibly turning pulpy at the bottom or are mired in a white, milky-looking liquid, don’t even bother opening the bag. They’re spoiled and should be discarded or composted.

Open the bag if the zucchini are not grossly spoiled. Lift out one of the squash. Examine it for obvious damage such as large soft or bruised spots. If you see any, use a paring knife to cut away the spoiled area. If the bruised spot is shallow, the remainder of the squash is usually still usable.

Examine the Inside and Outside

Slice the zucchini lengthwise if the spoiled area extends deeply into the squash. Examine the interior for streaks of discoloration or soft, watery-looking areas. If the damaged sections are localized, cut them away and use the rest. Alternatively, if they run though much of the squash’s length, discard the zucchini.

Squeeze the zucchini gently if it has no visible damage or spoilage. If it’s slightly rubbery, it is still sound but is losing its freshness. Do not serve it raw. Instead, cook it in soups, stews or fritters, or shred it for use in baked goods. Alternatively, if it’s still plump, firm and rigid, with skin that is still glossy rather than matte, it’s in excellent condition and can be used in any of your favorite preparations.

Shelf Life and Other Tips

Zucchini and other summer squash can be kept for three to five days at room temperature without ill effect, or refrigerated for up to a week. Don’t wash the squash until you plan to cook them. Washing the squash shortens their storage life dramatically.

Cooking Zucchini Whole So That It Isn’t Mushy

Learn how to cook zucchini on the grill or under the broiler using a method that cooks it perfectly, never soggy or mushy. Just delicious.

I’m a huge fan of raw zucchini. Have you ever had it raw? Let me tell you, this squash (and yes, zucchini really is a type of squash) has a mild flavor and a good soft crunch. A crunch like a cucumber, not like a carrot. It’s not as juicy as cucumber though. Much drier. I put raw zucchini in salads or on veggie and dip platters all the time. I’ve even used raw zucchini slices in place of crackers for canapes. See these over here.

While I love raw zucchini, I never used to like it cooked. It was always super mushy and wet. I didn’t like that texture at all. Then one day I tried cooking the zucchinis whole. The first time I did it on the grill.

How To Grill Zucchini

Rub whole zucchinis with olive oil, salt and pepper and then put them straight onto the grates over medium-high direct heat. When they get blackened underneath a bit (4-6 minutes), roll them over. Cook them until there are more black marks underneath, a few more minutes. Then put them onto a cutting board and sliced them, 3/4 inch thick. They’ll be caramelized and soft on the outside but the insides will still al dente, not mushy at all. You’ll love them completely.

You can also do the same thing, essentially, under the broiler. I actually find this easier for every day because I can do it whether we’re grilling or not.

How To Broil Zucchini

Again, keep the zucchinis whole and rub them with olive oil, salt and pepper. Then put them on a broiling pan (like this one) or a good heavy-duty oven-safe skillet (I like cast iron, like this, something that can really handle high heat) and they go under the broiler just until their skins are darkened in spots (8-10 minutes). Take them out and slice them. You’re not going to believe how unmushily delicious these are!

What To Do With Your Blackened Zucchini

I usually slice it in 3/4-inch circles and then serve it as is as a side dish, but there are other things you can do with cooked zucchini. Two of my favorites are to slice it thinner, 1/4-1/2 inch, or dice it, and toss it with cooked pasta, olive oil and Parmesan cheese. Tomato sauce would work too. Second, let the zucchinis cool then slice them thinly and put them in a salad. So good.

I can’t wait to find out how you guys like this. Here’s a printable version of the broiling instructions for you. Have a great day!

Ingredients

  • 4 small zucchini
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 3/4 tsp. coarse salt (kosher or sea salt)
  • 1/2 tsp. coarse black pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat the broiler and adjust the shelf so that it is 6-8 inches from the heat source.
  2. Put the zucchini on a plate. Drizzle with olive oil and then rub it all over them. Sprinkle on all sides with salt and pepper.
  3. Transfer to a broiling pan or heavy-duty oven-proof skillet and broil until the skin is blistering and browning in spots, 8-10 minutes. Use tongs to transfer to a cutting board. Cut off the stem ends and discard. Slice zucchini into 3/4-inch chunks and serve hot or slice thinly to serve hot or to let cool and serve at room temperature in a salad.
Disclosure: This post contains Amazon affiliate links meaning that if you click and then buy something I receive a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you. All opinions are my own.

last updated on October 1, 2019 by Christine Pittman

Categories: Busy Weeknights, Easy Entertaining

Tags: Vegetable Recipes, Vegetarian Recipes, zucchini

Tips on How to Eliminate Tiny Yellow Bugs

Are you wondering what these tiny yellow bugs are?

Did you know that they can damage your plants?

Then knowing how you can eliminate these small yellow bugs is essential so that you can protect your plants and your overall garden.

What are these Tiny Yellow Bugs?

The tiny yellow bugs that are roaming around your garden are known as Aphids. They are usually small and can survive in almost everywhere.

They also have the ability to multiply and controlling them quickly necessary before they start increasing. Fortunately for you, they are easy to control, and they move relatively slow, so eliminating them is easier.

For people who don’t know, these tiny yellow bugs measure one-fourth inches but still visible to the naked eye. There are other colors of these tiny bugs, depending on their species, including pink, light green, gray, brown, black, and white.

Their bodies are pear-shaped, and they have antennae that are long. These tiny yellow bugs usually feed in big groups but you can also see them feeding individually.

Damages that Tiny Yellow Bugs Can Do

Ruining the Leaves

Check the leaves if there are any yellowish colored ones, stunted, curling, or misshapen ones. You need to test the underside of all the leaves as well since these tiny yellow bugs love hiding there.

Fungal Growth on the Plant

Check if there are any sticky substances in the stems and the leaves. If you see some, then this is a sign that the tiny bugs have been there.

The reason behind this is because they produce a sugary liquid whenever they feed on something. The honeydew, on the other hand, can develop into a sooty mold, which will make the branches turn black.

Distorted Fruits and Flowers

Tiny yellow bugs can change the fruits and the flowers while they are feeding on it. This will make your fruits and flowers look ugly, which you surely don’t want to happen.

If you don’t want these things to happen to your plants and the fruits and flowers that you have, then knowing how you can eliminate them is essential.

How To ​Kill Tiny Yellow Bugs

Below are some of the ways on how you can get rid of these tiny yellow bugs.

Removing them Physically

You can remove the tiny yellow bugs physically from the plants itself. Using a good pair of gloves, start pinching or brushing the bugs away from the leaves and stems.

If you notice that the infestation is focused to 1 or 2 branches or stalks, then pruning that part off would be essential. After pruning, pour a soapy water to kill the bugs.

Using Water Pressure

Using your garden hose, start spraying your bugs with water but make sure that this tip can cause problems with plants that are fragile and younger.

But the good thing is, it can be very effective when it comes to controlling the bugs’ populations on plants that are well established and the ones that are robust.

Adding Neem Oil in Water

Dilute neem oil in water and start spraying them into plants that are infested with these yellow bugs. The chemical that is present in this oil will act as a repellent to yellow bugs and other pests, such as ants, leaf miners, beetles, cabbage worms, and mealy bugs.

Water and Soap

Another tip that you can do is using water and soap. Some detergents are mild, and they are usually perfect for eliminating these yellow bugs. In a small bucket of water, dilute a couple of tablespoon of dishwashing soap and start spraying the mixture on your plants.

The mixture will then dissolve the protective wax from the bodies of the bugs, which will then dehydrate them and kill them without you worrying about the plant.

Add Some Insects and Herbs

Some insects are beneficial for the plants, especially if the plants are being infested with tiny yellow bugs. Some of the beneficial insects are ladybug beetles and lacewings.

You can purchase these insects in gardening stores. You can also add some herbs that tiny bugs hate, including oregano, catnip, and garlic to attract the tiny yellow bugs into the plant, so they can be eaten with the beneficial insects that you have added.

Using Insecticidal Soap

Source: Chris Alberti

There are a lot of insecticide soaps in different garden stores today, and these soaps can help with the infestation of the tiny yellow bugs.

When using this product, just make sure to follow every written instruction included, so you won’t harm any other insects that are beneficial for your garden.

Using Some Essential Oils

You can also start using some essential oils, including rosemary, clove, peppermint, and thyme oils. Add 4 to 5 drops of each and mix it with water before transferring it to a bottle sprayer.

Once done, you can start spraying the plants that are infested. These essential oils will kill not only the pests but as well as the larvae and the eggs.

Get Some Birds for Your Garden

Another tip that you can do is to encourage the birds’ nesting around your garden, including titmice, chickadees, and wrens. You can effectively attract them by offering them a housing space and free food.

Typically, these types of birds prefer nesting in shrubs and smaller trees, which will help them to have cover. You can start planting abelia, hydrangeas, and other types of shrubs which birds will use to hide.

Use Some Natural Repellents

The organic compounds found in garlic and onions are hated by these tiny yellow bugs. Start growing these organic compounds in your garden and these bugs will surely be discouraged to even go near your plants.

These are the most effective ways on how to eliminate tiny yellow bugs in your garden in no time.

Start doing the above tips, and you will surely be able to have a tiny yellow bug-free garden. Your plants will also stay healthy and free from any diseases that these bugs carry.

There are approximately 4,000 aphid species found throughout the world. Low to moderate numbers are usually not harmful to plants and rarely require control. However, heavy infestations will cause leaves to curl, wilt or yellow and stunted plant growth. A general decline in overall plant vigor will also be noticed. Several species can transmit plant diseases, particularly viruses which they pass on during feeding.

Identification

Aphids are small (1/8 inch long), soft bodied, pear-shaped insects that may be green, yellow, brown, red or black in color depending on species and food source. Generally adults are wingless, but some can grow wings, especially if populations are high. They have two whip-like antennae at the tip of the head and a pair of tube-like structures, called cornicles, projecting backward out of their hind end.

Note: As they feed, aphids secrete large amounts of a sticky fluid known as honeydew. This sweet goo drips onto plants, attracting ants and promoting a black sooty mold growth on leaves. Cars and lawn furniture that are under infested trees will also be covered with this sticky fluid.

Life Cycle

In spring wingless female aphids hatch from overwintering eggs and soon give birth to many nymphs (males are not present). Young nymphs increase gradually in size and within a week give birth to many more nymphs. This process is repeated several times and results in huge population explosions. As the colony grows, a few of the females develop wings and fly off to other host plants to start new colonies. In late summer and early fall sexual forms (males and females) develop which mate and lay overwintering eggs. There are many overlapping generations per year.

Note: Most aphids, except for the sexual forms, do not have to mate in order to reproduce, and they produce live young, rather than eggs.

How to Control

  1. Pinch or prune off heavily infested leaves or other plant parts.
  2. Use the Bug Blaster to hose off plants with a strong stream of water and reduce pest numbers.
  3. Commercially available beneficial insects, such as ladybugs and lacewing are important natural predators. For best results, make releases when pest levels are low to medium. If populations are high, use a least-toxic, short-lived natural pesticide to establish control, then release predatory insects to maintain control.
  4. Apply 100% organic Diatomaceous Earth for long-lasting protection. Made up of tiny fossilized aquatic organisms, that look like broken glass under the microscope, DE kills by scoring an insect’s outer layer as it crawls over the fine powder. Contains NO toxic poisons!
  5. Safer® Soap will work fast on heavy infestations. A short-lived natural pesticide, it works by damaging the outer layer of soft-bodied insect pests, causing dehydration and death within hours. Apply 2.5 oz/ gallon of water when insects are present, repeat every 7-10 day as needed.
  6. BotaniGard ES is a highly effective biological insecticide containing Beauveria bassiana, an entomopathogenic fungus that attacks a long-list of troublesome crop pests – even resistant strains! Weekly applications can prevent insect population explosions and provide protection equal to or better than conventional chemical pesticides.
  7. Made for use indoors or out, Bon-Neem is a unique blend of potassium soaps derived from Indian Neem tree seed and other natural sources. Specially formulated as a ready-to-use spray that kills most insect pests on contact.
  8. Horticultural oils should be applied early in the season or late in the fall to destroy overwintering eggs.
  9. Fast-acting botanical insecticides should be used as a last resort. Derived from plants which have insecticidal properties, these natural pesticides have fewer harmful side effects than synthetic chemicals and break down more quickly in the environment.
  10. Do not over water or over fertilize – aphids like plants with high nitrogen levels and soft new growth. Use organic fertilizers which release nutrients slowly.

Tip: Ants feed on the honeydew that sucking insects produce and will protect these pests from their natural enemies. An application of Tanglefoot Pest Barrier to the stalks of roses and other woody plants will help keep ants away.

In a hallway of an engineering building at Stanford University, some devilish researchers have built a sprawling obstacle course. To make it through, competitors have to wind over sand, through a door, up some steps, and finally, through a forest of small pillars. Sounds like the Rube Goldbergian machinations of an grad student with too much time and Red Bull on their hands, but no: This is a robot training ground.

See, a tracked robot might be able to navigate the sand and the steps, but good luck in the forest. A wheeled automaton could well get stuck in the sand. Amateurs, says vinebot. Air pumps into a flexible plastic tube, slowly extending it over the sand as an operator steers it through the door and over the steps and between the pillars. Obstacles bested.

You may have seen vinebot snaking around last summer, but now it’s better than ever. What used to be a simple inflating plastic tube now comes complete with actuators—the bits that help any robot change direction. But this is not like any other robot. It’s part of the first generation of advanced “soft robots,” which promise to go where no traditional robot can tread—literally.

Vinebot got its name because, well, it grows like a vine. Air pushes plastic tubing through the center of more plastic tubing. “When you do that, the material comes out the top—it inverts, which basically means it turns inside out, and that way you get more material onto the tip,” says Stanford roboticist Allison Okamura, who developed the vinebot with fellow Stanford researchers Sean Follmer and Jonathan Fan, as well as Elliot Hawkes of UC Santa Barbara.

As long as it has a steady supply of air, vinebot grows. To shrink it, the operator simply reels the tubing back into a spool.

Running along the tube are a series of plastic bags, which change their length when inflated with air. “That allows us to create a kind of air-driven tendon which allows us to steer it and still has the entire robot remain soft so that we can grow it at the same time,” Okamura says.

The more primitive version of vinebot could only move forward—conforming to the twists and turns of a maze, for instance. But this upgraded version can move forward and move its head around to steer. Thus an operator can guide it through a door or between pillars.

And because it’s inflatable, vinebot can squeeze into those hard-to-reach places. “There’s a clear tradeoff between traditional robots that can be very robust and made of strong materials like metal, and the soft robots which might be more delicate but have more flexibility,” says Okamura.

Soft robots like this aren’t likely to replace those hulking manufacturing arms on a factory floor—traditional robots are just far stronger, and at this point more precise. But they may find work someday searching collapsed buildings. (Search and rescue, to be honest, is the far-off promise of a lot of robots. Carnegie Melon’s snake robot tried helping out after Mexico’s big September quake, but ended up not helping much at all.) And their squishy form factor will make them safer to use around human collaborators without, you know, crushing them.

Problems, though. To get vinebot moving right now, you’ve gotta have a heavy, bulky air compressor handy. And two, you run into issues with structural integrity. Plastic tubing isn’t the most robust of materials, so to survive in the wild, soft robots like vinebot will have to utilize newfangled materials that are both strong and flexible (vinebot’s people have been experimenting with nylon). Because all it takes is one nick to cripple the thing. So it’s a good thing roboticists are already experimenting with materials that heal when cut.

Think Terminator, only with more cuddles and less murder.

More soft robots

  • Air isn’t the only thing that can power soft robots. This robotic muscle uses oil to seriously lift, bro.

  • Not all soft robots are as squishy as vinebot. Some need more support. So why not give them origami skeletons?

  • A particularly interesting frontier for soft robots is in medicine. This one fits over the heart like a glove to keep it pumping.

What Are Those Tiny White Bugs on My Plants?

Many common garden and greenhouse pests are so small that they appear to be nothing more than tiny white dots. But these bugs can cause serious damage to your plants. If you have noticed white insects on any plants in your garden or home, it is vital that you work out what they are and how to get rid of them!

So, what are those little white bugs on your plants?

Most likely, these tiny white bugs are one of three things: whiteflies, spider mites or mealybugs. And because of their size, it’s extremely difficult to tell them apart and tell which small white bug is which.

Luckily, we’re here to help! Continue reading this article to find out more about three of the most common white bugs that are found on plants, how to tell them apart and what to do about each of them.

Whiteflies

Catherine Eckert/.com

The whitefly is a tiny, winged insect that sucks sap from the leaves of a wide variety of plants. They are typically found on the underside of the leaves of many species of vegetables, flowers, and fruits. Whiteflies can be found in greenhouses and among outdoor crops. You may even find these tiny white flies in your house, where they often attack potted plants.

There are many different species of whiteflies. The problem is that they look so similar to one another that it can be very difficult to tell them apart. Measuring about 1/16 in. (1.5 mm) in length, whiteflies are tiny, white, and have a moth-like appearance. A whitefly infestation is easy to spot, though. You simply have to give the stems of your plants a shake to see these insects rise up in a white cloud.

What plants do they live on?

Whiteflies inhabit and feed on a wide variety of plant species. They especially like greenhouse crops. For that reason, they are most commonly found on tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, hibiscus, petunias, cucumbers, eggplants, fuchsia, squash, geraniums, begonias, chrysanthemums, potatoes, and many more!

How do they damage plants?

Whiteflies cause serious damage to the plants they feed on. These sap-suckers pierce the leaves of plants, causing yellowing, spotting, disfigurement, wilting, and the premature dropping of leaves. In the case of large infestations, a whitefly invasion can even lead to plant death.

As if that were not enough, whiteflies also produce honeydew. This is a sticky, sugary substance that coats foliage and encourages the growth of a sooty mold. This black fungus can cover leaves and, in extreme cases, inhibit photosynthesis. Worst of all, whiteflies can also transmit several viral diseases to their host plants. These diseases can stunt growth and inhibit the production of fruits and vegetables.

How can you get rid of them?

Whiteflies are a persistent pest that can be tricky to get rid of. There are, however, several ways you can battle these bugs.

Use reflective paper or plastic mulch in plant beds as a protective measure. Place sticky pads near plants to trap whiteflies before they can land. If you already have a whitefly infestation, try spraying the leaves of plants with a high-pressure hose to physically remove the insects and their eggs. Insecticidal sprays may also help to eradicate whiteflies. Or, if you prefer a natural approach, these pests have several natural predators that can help to keep their numbers under control.

Spider Mites

Catherine Eckert/.com

Spider mites are a tiny arachnid that is commonly found in gardens, houseplants, and greenhouses around the world. Measuring just 1/50 in. (0.5 mm) in length as adults, these bugs are so small that you may miss them. Spider mites do produce a fine, silken thread, though, that can give leaves a cobwebbed appearance. This can make a spider mite infestation easier to spot.

These pests vary in color. For example, the two-spotted spider mite can be white, orange, red, light green, or dark green and sports a pair of black spots on its abdomen.

What plants do they live on?

Spider mites can live on hundreds of species of plants. In particular, keep an eye out for them on your cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce, peas, beans, strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, azaleas, marigolds, roses, and even trees like maple and elm.

How do they damage plants?

Like whiteflies, spider mites are sap-sucking bugs. While small numbers of mites will probably not cause any noticeable damage, a large infestation can spell trouble for your foliage. Feeding can cause tiny white or yellow speckles to appear on leaves. Over time, this can give the leaf a discolored, mottled appearance. In the end, the leaves may drop prematurely while heavily infested plants can become stunted or even die.

How can you get rid of them?

You can identify spider mites by shaking the leaves over a sheet of paper. If the plant has mites, you will be able to see them walking slowly across the paper.

One of the best ways to remove spider mites from plants is by blasting the leaves with a jet of water, physically removing them. These bugs also have several natural predators. You can purchase and release these predators on infested plants to naturally control the spider mite numbers.

If all else fails, consider treating the foliage of any affected plants with a soap spray or a selective miticide to effectively reduce the population.

Mealybugs

Songkran Wannatat/.com

If you own a greenhouse, those white dots on your plants could well be mealybugs. These tiny, segmented insects measure between 1/20- to 1/5-in. (1-5 mm) in length and are covered in a waxy, white coating. Mealybugs tend to hang out in clusters around inaccessible parts of the plant, such as leaf axils, sheaves, between fruits, between twining stems, and some even colonize roots.

Many mealybug species also attack house plants. Be on the lookout for a white, cottony substance on the leaves, stems, and shoots of plants. This is often the first sign of mealybugs.

What plants do they live on?

Mealybugs invade many different species of greenhouse and indoor plants. They are often found on tomatoes, peaches, bamboo palms, cacti, succulents, orchids, grapevines, citrus trees, jade plants, hoya, ficus, fuchsia, palms, poinsettias, begonias, and strawberries, among others.

How do they damage plants?

Small numbers of mealybugs may not cause any noticeable damage to plants. Large infestations, however, can weaken and even kill host plants.

This is because mealybugs are sap-sucking insects that drill into the foliage as they feed. This causes distortion of leaves, stunted growth, and reduced numbers of flowers, seeds, and fruit.

Like whiteflies, mealybugs also produce honeydew, which can lead to sooty mold that can quickly cover foliage. It reduces the attractiveness of plants and, in extreme cases, prevents sunlight from reaching the leaves.

How can you get rid of them?

Mealybugs are notoriously tricky to get rid of. This is due to their waxy coating and their annoying habit of hiding in the hard-to-reach parts of the plant.

The best way to remove mealybugs from your houseplants is to do so manually, using a cotton swab soaked in rubbing alcohol. This will dissolve their waxy coating, thereby killing the bugs. It, however, can be time-consuming.

Natural predators and parasites can provide good control. Insecticides aren’t very effective, but insecticidal soaps or oil sprays are good options. Like other small pests, a jet of water can dislodge them.

Conclusion

Many garden, greenhouse, and house plant pests may simply appear to be little white bugs on the leaves. While their small stature may make them difficult to tell apart, their potential to cause damage is not to be underestimated!

If left unchecked, pests such as whiteflies, spider mites, and mealybugs can devastate plants. They can form large infestations in vegetables, fruit trees, and ornamental plants that are almost impossible to get rid of. Learning to correctly identify these insects and the first signs of the damage they cause is vital to protect your plants from these pests.

Plants and pests go hand in hand. They are by no means a match made in heaven; but chances are that if you have plants, they’re going to get some sort of infestation at 1 time or another.

There are so many different insects which are specific to certain plants and/or regions. I’m going to cover the common ones that I’ve seen most often infest plants, both as houseplants and in the garden. Today I’ll be talking about aphids and mealybugs and how to control them.

What Do Plant Pests Do to Plants?

Both aphids and mealybugs are soft-bodied, sucking insects. They slowly suck the sap out of a plant which over time weakens it, stunts the growth and deforms the flower. You can liken sap in plants to blood in animals. The sap contains sugar which the insects love but can’t fully ingest and it oozes out on the plant.

You might also notice a black mold-like substance appearing on the leaves. This is actually a fungus which grows on the sugar. It can ultimately damage the plant too. Ants flock to an infested plant – they’re after the sugar too.

Aphids

Different color aphids on the underside of my hoya leaf.

I’m starting with aphids because they seem to appear out of nowhere in the spring. 1 day you can see 5 of them and 5 days later there seem to be 500. They come in a variety of colors including green, orange, black, brown, white, gray and even pinkish.

Ants hanging out with aphids on my Mojito Mint stem.

My hoya topiary had orange, grey and black aphids, my mint had green aphids and my grapefruit tree has black aphids. And they’re all within feet of each other! Aphids love fresh, new growth and tender stems. They, like most plant pests, like to hang out and feast on the underneath leaves where it’s a bit more protected.

A bad infestation of mealybugs.

Mealybugs move slower than aphids. They can be found on every part of the plant, even the roots. They especially love to hang out in the nodes and are a common pest of houseplants.

Mealybugs love succulents. Here you can see how they gather in the nodes. The black spots on the leaves are that fungus.

If you see something which looks like white cotton on your plants, then it’s mealybugs. That’s the white trail that they leave behind. Growing up in New England we had a 3′ Jade Plant growing in our greenhouse. It would get mealybugs and I would dab them off with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol and water. I must’ve really loved that plant!

How To Control Aphids and Mealybugs

1.) Release predators in your garden.

Release ladybugs or lacewings in your garden as a method of control. Lacewings devour soft-bodied insects much faster than do ladybugs. This obviously isn’t a viable solution for your houseplants!

2.) Spray with water using the garden hose, kitchen or bath spray.

This is the method I fall back on. You want to gently blast off (no fire hose action here please) the pests & their eggs. I illustrate this method in the video on my hoya. The spray in your kitchen or bathroom will be suitable for your houseplants if you don’t have access to a hose outdoors.

3.) Insect killer sprays.

I don’t use chemicals so these are considered to be “natural controls.” They include horticultural oil, insecticidal soap & neem oil. Most plants can be sprayed with these but just check 1st. You can do a little research & see which would best for you.

Here are some options: insecticidal soap ready to use, insecticidal soap concentrate, horticultural oil ready to use, horticultural oil concentrate, neem oil ready to spray & neem oil concentrate. This 1 lists itself as a houseplant & garden insect killer.

4.) Make homemade spray recipes.

Here’s the way I’ve always made a soap/oil spray: Mix 1 tablespoon mild dish soap or Dr. Bronner’s, 1 tablespoon vegetable oil & 1 cup water. This works on mild infestations.

Here’s what I’ve used to get rid of mealybugs: Mix 1/4 cup rubbing alcohol with 1 cup of water. You can either dab it on the mealybugs with a cotton swab or spray it on.

Rodale’s, a source for living naturally which I’ve known about & respected for a long time, has a recipe for this natural pest spray with garlic, onion & cayenne pepper.

Orange aphids covering the stems of Butterfly Weed.

How to Control Plant Pests

* Aphids especially love fresh growth. Mealybugs love to hang out in the nodes & crevices. Both can be found on the undersides of the leaves.

* Both have soft bodies so they’re easy to control early on.

*Which leads me to: control these pests as soon as you see them. Once the infestation gets bad, they’re hard to get rid of. Your plant may not recover.

*Ants are after the sugary residue left behind by the aphids & mealybugs. Once the insects are gone, the ants will be too.

*The leaves of the plant can get sticky – that’s caused by the sugar secretion. You might see a black residue (the fungus) appear – you’ll want to get rid of that too.

*If you choose to spray as your method of control, you’ll need to repeat. Follow the instructions on the bottle as to how often. A homemade spray you can repeat every 7 days. It might take 3-4 rounds to control the pests. Make sure the plant isn’t stressed (ie bone dry) before spraying. And, don’t spray in the hot sun.

*It’s very, very, very important to spray the undersides of the leaves thoroughly. That’s where these pests hang out.

*Be sure to inspect any new plants you bring home to make sure they’re not carrying any pests.

*The same goes for plants which have summered outdoors. Check them for pests before bringing them in for the colder months.

Hopefully, your plants never get aphids or mealybugs but if they do, you can now identify them and take action.

Next up in the plant pest series: spider mites & whiteflies.

Happy (pest free) gardening & thanks for stopping by,

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