Aphids and mites and thrips, OH MY!

UH OH.  What is attacking my flowers????  Before you panic, take a minute to see what you are dealing with.  Here we have examples of aphids, mites and thrips.  There are a million more pictures available on the internet and remember that some of these pests are SO tiny that you need a super powerful magnifying glass to see them!

aphid dappled leafspider mite leaf speckled.jpgThrips on back of leaf.jpg

man w mask spraying chemicals  This guy is declaring war on bugs, but wow, this must be some pretty toxic stuff he is using.  At least he is wearing SOME protective clothing, but personally I would rather be using something that isn’t going to cause permanent lung damage.

spraying organic spray

Obviously this gardener does not have a big garden or a huge infestation, as he is using a hand sprayer.  There are a lot of remedies out there for the do-it-yourselfer who wants to save money and be more environmentally responsible.  Homemade “insecticidal soap,” a spray used to kill harmful insects like mites, aphids, thrips, white flies and immature leafhoppers is one way.  The fatty acids in the soap dissolve the insects’ exoskeleton, causing them to dehydrate.

Make sure that you are not using dishwashing detergent, which may harm plants and will not work on insects because it doesn’t use fatty acids. You need liquid soap, such as pure CASTILE liquid soap, that does not contain additives (like fragrance, moisturizer and other additional chemicals).

  1.   Choose a clean spray bottleor sprayer for your mixture. If you’re recycling a previously used bottle, make sure it is completely sanitized
  2. . Mix 1 tablespoon of Castile soap per quart of water,or 4 to 5 tablespoons of soap per gallon of water.
  3. .Mix together thoroughly and use immediately. Make sure to evenly coat infected plants, from top to bottom, for best results. It has to come in contact with the insects for it to work.  

Sometimes plants will negatively react to insecticidal soaps. You may want to test your spray on just a few leaves at first. If you see any signs of spotting, withering or browning of the leaves, stop use. You can try to adjust the recipe or turn to a new product. Some Gardeners will add further ingredients to obtain desired results, such as cooking oil, garlic and vinegar. If soap and water do not seem to be working, research how to properly add these additional ingredients to help increase chances of success.

Lastly, hard water will reduce the soap’s effectiveness. If you have hard water, try making your spray with bottled water instead.


My personal reality:  I have SO many flowers that this approach, even with a pressurized sprayer is something I don’t have time for…sometimes I just have to go outside and plead with the ‘good bugs’ to get busy and do their job!  This has been a rough summer so far, and the bad bugs seem to be ahead at this point, but if you don’t look real close it still looks pretty!

backyard summer 2016 (16)
I think my trusty friend Boots is looking for bugs on the ground