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12/07/2013 at 17:57

Hi,  I seem to have these little black bugs smothering nearly everything! some people say wipe them off or blast them with the hose but I think that'd wreck the plants... they're on delicate flowers (jasmine, bishops flower, some small cosmos etc.

I don't like the idea of using pesticides or washing up liquid... are there any other options? plus what are they and why are they hounding my garden? I also took on an allotment this year and inherited an artichoke plant but the artichokes on it are being choked by these black buggies too!

Im a new gardener & am dismayed that my plants are like this!! 

 

Please help/ advise!

12/07/2013 at 19:14

welcome to the world of aphids! Blackfly is probably what you have. they also come in green, pink or sometimes grey, depending on what type they are and what colour sap they are sucking up.

there are two approaches to gardening. there's the cut and burn theory where you think human beings are supreme and a garden should represent control of nature by the human race. In this case you go to the garden centre and pay Bayer or ICI for some nasty chemicals that will zap your garden into clean, organised lines. The other approach is to see yourself and your garden as a cog in the great wheel of nature and accept that every living thing has a part to play in things, even if that part may not be obvious to you. in that case you will leave the blackfly alone and notice that, if the plants are healthy, the birds, wasps and other creature eat the blackfly and, as quickly as they appeared, they suddenly disappear. If you are having a bit of a bad day ( just got a letterr from the bank etc) you might allow yorself to squish a few of them between your fingers while thinking dark thoughts about the bank manager. 

You can decide what to do, depending on your personality.

 

 

 

 

 

12/07/2013 at 19:30

In previous years I have used bug spray to stop sawfly devastating my Soloman's seal.  However, this year I decided to just pick them all off by hand but last night I noticed a tiny wasp laying eggs into each and every sawfly larvae so decided I quite like the idea of lots more of these predators being around in the future and let them be.  The Soloman's seal will still be eaten to shreds this year, but next year there may be a lot more of these predator wasps which may help keep sawfly numbers down.  The bug spray would have killed the wasp too of course.  It's just a different (and better, in my opinion) way of looking at things.

12/07/2013 at 20:26

Well said, Bob the gardener

 

12/07/2013 at 20:42

My beautiful dahlias also have blackfly, so far they don't seem to have caused any problems, I am inclined to leave them alone, let nature do her thing

12/07/2013 at 20:50

You can always assist nature in doing her job. Find spiders, ladybirds and larvae and transfer to blackfly infested plants. The other thing you might like to check on is whether any ants are on the plants too. They "farm" the blackfly as in they protect them from predators in exchange for the aphid honey dew. If there are ants try scattering cinnamon at the base of the plants 

12/07/2013 at 21:28

My runner beans and broad beans are infested with black fly, squashing them has reduced the flowers, blasting them with water has probably knocked them onto other plants.  Blasting the woolly aphid on the apple tree doesn't seem to work either or they are wearing strong waterproofs! Although I have bees, the other predators don't seem to be around.  I have thought of spraying them but don't want to eat chemicals and after seeing the programme the other night about how coffee is decafinated, am seriously thinking about going back to drinking normal coffee.

13/07/2013 at 08:47

I drink decaff cof  what do they do to it?! 

The predators will come...be ever-hopeful lol

 

13/07/2013 at 09:03

I don't do much spraying, but liquid soap is better than washing up liquid which is a detergent.

13/07/2013 at 13:20

Hi! Thanks everyone - I've loved all the responses.I definately want to keep things as natural & organic as possible, I was just shocked at how many of these nasty little things there are!

I will try to be patient and hopefully the natural predators will take control, although I havent seen any lady bugs yet : (

You can't buy them can you?

I also like waterbutts idea of squishing them to relieve stress!

It's interesting that addict mentioned the ants because many of these plants that are heavily covered do have ants scurrying up and down them & I didn't think anything of it. I'll try the cinnamon idea today as that can't do any harm to the soil...(can it?!)

Thanks again!

 

 

13/07/2013 at 14:36

Hi there.  I am just a 'beginner' gardener and novice poster too. 

I noticed loads of these little pests were clinging to my hanging basket flowers and so I ordered some ladybirds, I haven't received them yet, but I really can't wait for them to arrive.  I am like a 5 year old waiting for Christmas at the moment.

I ordered them from greengardener.co.uk, I checked out a few websites after googling and this one seemed among the cheapest and with the most info.  I opted for the ladybird family as you get ladybirds and larvae, my biggest concern is that the ladybirds will just up and fly away once I introduce them to my baskets, the larvae at least will have to hang around a while and hopefully munch up a few critters in the meantime.

Hope that helps

Anne

13/07/2013 at 14:42

the larvae are a sight to see. nothing like a ladybird more like a tiny, tiny soft black scorpion.

13/07/2013 at 15:08

Cool..    I will post pictures of my babies when I get them.  

13/07/2013 at 15:30

Thats brilliant news thanks! I will order some immediately. I'm really happy to have found a natural solution. I will arm myself with some ladybird families & cinnamon!

 

Thanks everyone!

13/07/2013 at 16:03

I think I've mentioned this on another thread, but I haven't seen a single ladybird this year. Got excited a couple of times, but they were s***ing lily beetles. The only thing that's had a few probs with blackfly has been the philadelphus, and I've sort of kept them at bay with soft soap spray. I do have a lot of self seeded nasturtiums rambling round the beans etc, to act as sacrificial magnets for blackfly, but am seriously considering buying some ladybirds.

I don't use chemicals...well today I did. The kitchen sink drain blocked, and in the heat I just couldn't face degunking the smelly ubend by hand!

13/07/2013 at 20:50

Hi addict.  If you have catchup on your TV check out Monday 8/7 Channel 4 at 8.30, a programme called Food unwrapped.lol

14/07/2013 at 14:54

Hi Eve, there is another post on these forums about ladybirds and one poster posted this link for ladybird food, in case you haven't seen it:

http://www.wildforms.co.uk/ladybird-attractant.html

All the best

Anne

14/07/2013 at 15:12
14/07/2013 at 16:10

Try planting marigolds near the plants that are covered with blackfly. I put them next to my broad beans and it seems to stop them getting infected.

 

14/07/2013 at 19:45

Don't have catch up ever so will google in a min and see what I am poisoning myself with! 

The other thing you can do with broadbeans (bit late now) Is eat the tops before they get infested. Is it Pippa somebody on gardeners question time? She mentioned it. The plants don't need the tops and they are very tasty apparently. I know it doesn't help if the rest of the plant gets covered in blackfly but at least its one more thing you get to eat before they do lol.

Mabel have you planted Calendula to attract or Tagetes to deter. Both work

There is so much info out there of how to live with and work with nature I don't know why people still insist on blasting everything with poison.

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