The Q&A Archives: Control of Serious Aphid Infestations

Question: How can I avoid and/or get rid of the aphids that invade my lettuce plants about the middle of June every year. I grow looseleaf lettuce. The infestation is terrible and I can't even wash all of them off. I live about 10 miles northeast of Providence, RI. Please help me! It is June 1st and I don't have much time left to avoid them again this year.

Answer: Insecticidal Soap is the most effective immediate control for aphids. Apply it every week or more often at the beginning of the season when the aphids are at their worse, then once every 2-4 weeks on plants showing furtehr infestation. The key is to spray the plants thoroughly, up and down, inside and out, above and below. Next season, prepare to prevent an out-of-control aphid infestation. This fall, clean up all litter an nonessential mulches. Remove all old plants to the trash or compost bin to leave the soil completely bare. Cultivate the soil, deeply once, then in a few weeks shallowly. Plan to plant some beneficial insect attractants in your garden. Such plants as anise, coriander, dill, and Queen Anne's lace attract a wealth of beneficial insects that parasitize or prey upon aphids. Even crop rotation -- moving a particular crop to a different spot in the garden each year for 3-5 years -- minimizes aphid attack.

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