Aquaponics Gardening — 29 May 2013

I have noticed that there were some aphids (garden lice, greenflies) on the plants in my aquaponics system.  I should have done something when there were just a few of them.  I’ve found that they multiply like crazy.  Since my aquaponics system is indoors, the aphids have had free reign on the plants with no predators to eat them.

Aphids on the leaves of my aquaponics plants.

Aphids on the leaves of my aquaponics plants.

 

Aphids are a soft bodied insect that suck sap from plants.  They can actually weaken the plant and introduce disease.  The honeydew they leave behind after feeding on sap can also be destructive.  The sticky substance can inhibit photosynthesis and provide a place for mold to grow.

 Adult aphid with young (image from Wikimedia.org)

Bottom line is that I don’t want to incubate any more aphids.  I would like them gone.

Aphids really don’t have much protection in the wild.  Their soft bodies are easy targets for other insects to eat them.  The ladybug, larvae of green lacewings, hoverfly larvae, and aphid midge larvae all eat aphids.  Aphids are also susceptible to wind, rain, and temperature, as well as bacteria, fungus, and viruses.

I actually had one of my helpers transplant a ladybug that he found in our yard into the aquaponics plants.  The ladybug was never been heard of nor seen again.

The next step I’m using I  call “the hurricane method”.  The idea is to spray a jet of water all over the leaves.  If I were outdoors, I would use my garden hose and give the leaves a good spray.  Since I’m indoors, giving everything a good spray would not only get the plants wet, but also the walls and floors and make quite the mess.  So, instead I am using a spray bottle.  The nozzle has been turned to spray a jet of water and knock the aphids off the plants.  Some may make their way back up the plants, but I’m hoping many will die before they make it back.

I’ve also read that adding some soap to the water will dry out the soft bodied aphids.  You may want to give this a try.  Add about 5 drops of liquid dish soap to a quart of water.  Then spray the solution all over the plants in the morning.  When the sun comes out the water is evaporated leaving the dried soap on the aphids which kills them.  There are many other cocktail solutions besides soapy water that may also work.

Since my aquaponics system depends on bacteria, I left the soap out of the water.  Antibacterial soap would damage the good bacteria that I need to convert the Ammonia to Nitrogen.

Another method that I am also employing is to rub the leaves with my fingers.  This squishes or knocks the aphids off the plants.

I’ve notice that the first few times I’ve done this there have still been aphids.  I’m hoping that my “hurricane method” and rubbing of the plant leaves is killing the aphids faster than they can multiply.  I’ll definitely need to check back often to see my progress.

I hope this helps you in your pursuit to get rid of aphids.

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Ben

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