The Q&A Archives: Aphids On Honeysuckle

Question: I have a trumpet honeysuckle vine that gets polluted with aphids while the flowers are still in bud. The leaves get yellowed and the flowers get deformed. I am afraid to spray them with anything, because the purpose of having the plant is to attract hummingbirds. What can I do?

Answer: You could try a beneficial insect such as ladybug larvae.   Ladybug larvae are actually more effective than ladybugs themselves.  I recommend Gardens Alive's ladybugs, which are ready to reproduce upon arrival! They state their stock "will produce over 10,000 aphid-eating larvae within 30 days." Gardens Alive can be reached by calling 812-537-8650, or write them at 5100 Schenley Place, Lawrenceburg, IN  47025.

Or, you could try insecticidal soap.  It 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 further infestation. The key is to spray the plants thoroughly, up and down, inside and out, above and below. Insecticidal soap should not harm hummingbirds, and, if you start early in the season before things get out of hand, you might not need to spray once the flowers begin to open--and the hummingbirds arrive to feed.

Next season, prepare to prevent an out-of-control aphid infestation. This fall, clean up all litter and nonessential mulches. Remove all old plants to the trash or compost bin to leave the soil completely bare. You could also 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.

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