|Here you can see the adult and instar (younger) stages of Aphids|
|Victim: Rose White skeletal remains can be seen here.|
I use 3 natural methods to keep aphids at bay in my garden.
1) Squishing them with my fingers (ok, for those of you who say - eeew, please....just use gloves then). They're just filled with plant juice, so it's a no-brainer. I just run my fingers on the cluster of aphids and squish away. I rinse the area with a light spray of water to dislodge any remaining hanging on.
|Gently squish without damaging new growth.|
3) Prune off the worst of it. This reduces their populations and removes the succulent new flushes of growth they LOVE to feast on. This is a last resort method. Otherwise, you may be removing flower buds forming or stunting growth. But, it is a true winner for reducing their numbers.
|No biggy. It washes off, folks. :)|
Ants - when you see them climbing on your plants, they are after the honey-dew. They harvest it, by coaxing the aphids to poop more. (Gotta love bugs.) Ants devour their sweet remnants and perpetuate the cycle.
Keep your plants hydrated, by watering the in the morning hours. Spraying the new growing foliage with water isn't the best way to water your plants, but it certainly wouldn't hurt to reduce aphids from multiplying and causing damage. Hose off in the morning hours - this allows foliage to dry out during the day, preventing powdery mildew and other fungal diseases from also forming.
When there are sheer numbers as in my photos, you'll find a Lady Bug (Bird, Beetle UK) or it's larvae form feasting on them, among other predatory insects. I usually leave them a leaf full of Aphids for them to enjoy.
This is not the first time I've seen Aphid populations being so abundant. Cycles in precipitation and weird weather patterns facilitate these blips on the richter-scale of bug life. Not to be overly concerned. Your trees won't die with Aphid attacks, they will however weaken if it is an on-going situation each year. The good thing, as Aphid populations increase, so do their predators. If your tree looks further sickly by summer, contact a reputable arborist to take further action.