aphids - Knowledgebase Question

fort lauderdale, Fl
Question by eatyourtv
November 28, 2010
aphids & ants are amuck in my butterflyweed. i was told lavender and peppermint would get rid of them. i planted both and even sprayed with a tea of both plants. now there are more than ever! i cant use chemicals due to the monarch butterflies i'm raising here...what will chase the ants & aphids away?


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Answer from NGA
November 28, 2010

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Nasturtiums are a natural trap crop for aphids so you might try planting them. Lady bugs and lacewings prey on aphids and their eggs so you might want to release some of them in your garden. Hand squishing the aphids or hosing them off with a strong stream of water is also helpful. You're right, any chemical sprays you might use can harm your butterflies and their larvae. I think if you can control the ants, you'll have a smaller population of aphids. Ants protect aphids and milk them for their honeydew. A good least-toxic method to control ants is the use of boric acid baits. Boric acid baits can eliminate some ant colonies in about one week. The trick is to not kill the ants at the bait station, but to get the ants to carry the boric acid back to the nest, poisoning the members of the colony that never leave the nest. You can make a boric acid bait by mixing one-half cup jelly, such as apple jelly, with 1 1/4 tsp boric acid powder. Punch several holes in the lid of a jar, then screw the lid on tightly and seal with tape. The holes should be large enough for the ants to pass through to reach the bait. Place the bait jar on its side where the ants will come in contact with it. If the ants are unable to gain footing on the jar lid, you might want to scratch the surface with sandpaper or a pebble. If you find many dead ants around the bait station, lower the amount of boric acid in the mixture. If you are still finding live ants after a week to 10 days, increase the amount of boric acid. Although boric acid is of very low toxicity, it is best to place bait jars where children and pets cannot reach them. Hope one of these methods works for you.

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