The Q&A Archives: Tiny Bugs On Chrysanthemums

Question: There must be thousands of tiny black or dark brown insects on the stems and new growth and under the leaves of an outdoor potted chrysanthemum. There are also many ants that seem to be attracted to them. It almost looks as though the plant was sprinkled with black pepper. I have sprayed them off with water, only to have them reappear in force the next day. Otherwise, the plant seems very healthy. Any suggestions? Thank you.

Answer: It really sounds to me as though aphids have taken over your plants! We generally think of aphids as being green, but they actually come in all sizes and colors, from rose to brown to black (and shades in between). Ants are a clue that the pests have sucking mouthparts and are drinking the fluid within the tissues of your plants. In the case of aphids, they deposit a sweet, sticky substance called honeydew which attracts ants. Your first defense is a good one - hosing the pests off with plain water. If this doesn't keep the population under control, try Insecticidal Soap. It's effective against soft-bodied insects like aphids. Be sure to read and apply according to label directions. Good luck with your chrysanthemums!

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