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  • aphids on lettuce

    Hey, I'm having a problem with aphids eating my lettuce. I don't know how to get rid of them. If I spray the leaves with bug killer it will kill them, but it will hurt me too. Ahhh! Frustrated.

  • #2
    Kid-I had aphid problems every year on everything until I got some green lacewings-they devoured them. There is a place in Tucson that will ship them to you-they come as eggs, hatch and then go to work. That place is called Arbico. Here is the link-I am not part of this company and have no financial interest in them.

    http://www.arbico-organics.com/1110001.html

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    • #3
      Aphids are attracted to yellow. So are a few other bugs. A few plastic yellow bowls placed in the garden with water in them will drown the flying adult aphids. If tangle trap is sprayed on the outside of the bowls, it will trap the younger aphids.

      This has worked before, also. Get some clear 2 litre soda bottles, and take the labels off. Fill them with water coloured yellow with food coloring. Push the bottles upside down into the dirt and spray them with tangle trap.

      Also, many bugs that eat aphids are attracted to dill. So either plant dill near the aphid prone lettuce or spray the luttuce routinely with dill extract (actually a decoction) that is made by boiling dill in a sachet in water.

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      • #4
        Plastic yellow bowls might trap some aphids but they will not clean up an aphid problem. Aphid adults come in both winged and non winged forms, regardless of species this is the same. A winged aphid has landed on your lettuce and started a colony, they live birth rather than lay eggs so the colony develops very quickly. Colonies consist of wingless adults and their wingless young, they usually stay within a leaf or two of where they are born fairly stationary while feeding. Only once the colony is quite large and food source becomes limited will some of the adults develop wings and fly to a new location. Just a spray of insecticidal soap will clean them up-good coverage is the key as it works by blocking the aphid from breathing through the holes in it's body. Lacewings will work as will ladybugs which might be cheaper. Aphidoletes aphimyza will also work well but is more money. I won't mention names of suppliers as I work for one but be cautious with buying them from some of the smaller companies due to poor shipping prodedures (I am not familiar with the one mentioned good or bad). Insecticidal soap will be by far your cheapest, most easily accessible option.

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        • #5
          Orius-Agree that soap is one solution, but it never really worked good enough for me. I always had a mess of aphids on my eggplants. Green lacewings did the job-it took about 2 weeks to finish them off, and the problem was solved. I also had an area in my front patio that was enclosed. For years I did everything, but never solved the aphid problem. The green lacewings did. I mentioned Arbico because Kid is in Zone 8, like I am, and they are in Tucson.

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          • #6
            Thanks ya'll! I'll put out the yellow water bottles and spray with insecticidal soap until I can order some lacewings. Oh, is it too late in the year to get lacewings? It's starting to get cold, and by cold I mean just barely hitting freezing at night. Will they still hatch?

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            • #7
              You could also plant your lettuce under floating row cover. Also you might want to buy a book on Bio-Dynamic gardening. John Jeavons or Eliott Coleman would be top picks. If the soil is healthy, your plants will be impervious to insects like aphids. Aphids attack weak or diseased plants.

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              • #8
                No doubt at all that spraying soap first and then releasing something like lacewings or ladybugs is the best approach. Just a bit expensive for many home gardeners. The two work well together because the bio's take care of whatever the spray has missed.

                Gardenkid: Not sure how well lacewings will perform in your low night temperatures, the majority of my experience is in commercial greenhouses. Likely if it is a small spot they will clean it up almost instantly anyways.

                zebraman: I am a big fan of John Jeavons and Elliot Coleman but the idea that healthy soil grows plant that are not affected by aphids is untrue organic folklore. I have seen this repeatedly in practice. A friend of mine (also a peer and good friend of Elliot Coleman) has the healthiest soil of any organic farm I have seen and also one of the largest aphid problems. His farm has been 100% organic for about 18 years and follows many of the biodynamic principles. He definately has far more native predators/parasitoids than the conventional farms I visit but he always has aphid (and other pest problems). I have seen the same story played out in several organic farms both in N. America and Holland. Most organic growers I have met preach this same story until you visit their farm and show them the amount of pests that they actually have if they look properly. I will say that the aphids in an organic farm rarely reach the levels they will in a conventional one due mostly to presence of native parasitoids that are not present in sprayed farms.

                Soap will give close to 100% kill on many insects including aphids but the problem is you need to pretty much completely cover the insect which is very hard to do.

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                • #9
                  I generally create a concoction and let it steep overnight....

                  1L water, 2 cloves garlic crushed - let it steep overnight
                  add 1 or 2 drops of hand soap (I use Dr Bronners)
                  Some peopel add a few drops of neem oil but I dont

                  I add it to a spray bottle and use it for 2-3 applications...seems to work well for me but I have never had a huge problem either

                  Hope this helps.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Sam_I_Am View Post
                    I generally create a concoction and let it steep overnight....

                    1L water, 2 cloves garlic crushed - let it steep overnight
                    add 1 or 2 drops of hand soap (I use Dr Bronners)
                    Some peopel add a few drops of neem oil but I dont

                    I add it to a spray bottle and use it for 2-3 applications...seems to work well for me but I have never had a huge problem either

                    Hope this helps.
                    umm... would the garlic make the lettuce taste bad?

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                    • #11
                      I don't know....I have used it on Tomatoes, Peppers (only bells) and roses....the toms and peppers tasted fine and the roses looked great....I guess that it could affect lettuce which is much more delicate.....

                      Maybe someone uses this and can weigh in...

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                      • #12
                        My experience has been just the opposite. I had a few years ago wheat growing between the beds (from wheat-straw) that were so covered with aphids that they looked like alien life forms, but the plants a foot away in my beds were unaffected by aphids. And no barrier between them. Both Jeavon's and Coleman state this as fact. So does Rodale.

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                        • #13
                          I dunno Zman, I use row cover extensively (no lettuce bed is ever uncovered on my farm and I generally do around 50 or so 4' x 50' lettuce beds in a year) and some times they get infested with aphids. Generally the aphids come on when the lettuce is close to harvest so I do not worry about it and just wash the heads well to get the aphids off before they are sold.

                          Garlic spray will not make the lettuce taste like garlic (and would this be bad?)

                          Soap sprays work as long as you use soft water (hard water curdles the soap and makes it useless), you cover all parts of the plant (with lettuce that means getting the spray between leaves) and you spray every other day for at least two weeks

                          Hummingbirds are another excellent aphid predator. Hang some feeders in your garden and they will start feeding on any aphids that are there as well.

                          Sugar sprays sprayed on effected crops will attract ladybugs. It will take the lady bugs 2 to 3 weeks to produce larva which is the stage that puts a real hurt on aphids (the adults do eat them but not like the young do-I guess it doesn't matter what the species is-or even phyla-teenagers tend to be voracious)

                          If you are attracting in predators make sure NOT to cover your lettuce

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                          • #14
                            zebraman: The aphids on the wheat are monocot specific, they will not jump to dicotyledon plants. You will never see an aphid colony on a grass plant like wheat jump to something that is not for certain a monocot and usually very closely related as well. In fact in commercial greenhouses it is common practice to introduce aphid infested wheat plants into the greenhouse as a banker plant to rear beneficial parasites. As long as the crop in the greenhouse is not also a monocot, the aphids will not develop off the banker plant. Aside from the monocot/dicot requirement most aphids are extremely specific to plant species, so if you have one type of aphids on your peppers it will be unlikely to be spread to your brassica's or beans in almost all cases.

                            I am aware that Jeavons, Rodale and Coleman promote what you say as fact. I believe in most of what they promote but this idea is bs plain and simple. If the type of sustainable agriculture they promote ever hopes of going mainstream this type of hippie folklore needs to be left at the door as it discredits the rest of what I think we both believe in.

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                            • #15
                              I don't have aphid or other bug problems, so I will continue to use french intensive bio-dynamic principles in my garden. And I will continue to offer this advise to others who are having difficulties.

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