Answer: Probably the most gentle control is to leave them alone and wait for the lady bugs to show up and eat them, but by then they will have damaged the buds and tender new growth. You can also spray them off with water from the hose, knocking them down every few days as needed. Insecticidal soap is also effective and also works only on direct contact with the aphids. It should only be applied according to the label instructions. The damage you saw could have been caused by the aphids rather than the soap. To make sure, test any spray on a small portion of a plant and wait a few days to be sure it is well tolerated.
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