Learning the Art of Gardening

Garden Challenges – Ants, aphids and gnats, oh my!

Garden Challenges – Ants, aphids and gnats, oh my!


Last year was an easy growing year for us.  Everything we planted grew, no issues except that we were a bit lazy.  This year is very different.  This year I’ve gotten somewhat familiar with pests.  EWWW!  I really don’t like bugs very much at all, I especially don’t like them in the house.  So I’m on a mission to kill some things.

My first nuisance is ants.  They are everywhere!  My kitchen sink, bathroom, sun room…everywhere!  Terro Ant Killer Indoor Liquid Ant Bait works, it’s what I used last year but I think I found another way. We bought some hummingbird concentrated nectar, hung it in my feeder and all I’m getting are, you guessed it, ANTS!  Big black ants this time instead of the little ones, the big ones are bullies I guess.  I found them in some of my planters on the ground getting the dirt to make a nest.  Invasive little buggers!  I’m going to make a concoction out of the nectar mix and Borax and place it around the house where I’ve seen them.   I’ll have to find somewhere further away from the house for the hummingbird feeder to keep the ants away.  I read somewhere that ants don’t like mint, we bought 3 different mint plants and planted them near our back porch where I’ve seen a trail many times.  I’ll let you know if it works.

We are also dealing with aphids and gnats.  I first realized we had aphids on the pepper plants. I think I might have brought them in too.  We bought a calla lily from Home Depot and brought into the sun room.  The next morning I noticed the plant was dripping dew.  I looked it up (Google of course) and found that dew dripping is a sign of aphids, they actually create the dew as they suck the sap from the plant stems, scales do the same thing.  If left untreated the young plants will certainly die.  Ladybirds, or as most of us call them ladybugs, love to eat aphids.  So naturally I wanted all the infected plants outside so that nature can take its course.  We did that, first went the lily and then the infected pepper plants.  We keep the infected ones outside around the clock and continued to just harden off the others, meaning we brought them in every night. That really didn’t do it, I kept finding them on the plants, and they really seemed to like the peppers.  They are easy enough to squish but that wasn’t working very well, it seems they just kept coming back.  Now all the pepper plants are planted in the garden and if I do an inspection I can’t find any aphids.  Yay!  The pictures below show what aphids can do to a young plant.  This is the first plant they were spotted on and the first plant put in the garden.  It doesn’t have aphids now but you can see what damage has been done.  With that said, it does have new growth on the top and hopefully the peppers won’t be effected.  We shall see.

Aphid damage
Aphid damage
Aphid damage
Aphid damage

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gnats…I have fungus gnats in my elm trees and these things are really hard to get rid of.  Jimmy’s niece gave us some seeds to grow Bonsai.  There were elm and azalea seeds, the azalea didn’t grow at all but every single elm seed did, I had 23 of them.  I read that the adult gnats are rather harmless, it’s the larva that does the damage.  The adult lays around 300 eggs in the moist soil and the larva munch on the plant roots, eventually killing the plant.  We are really trying to stay organic, no chemicals at all but the gnats are proving to be very persistent.  I read that watering the plants with well diluted hydrogen peroxide would allow oxygen to the roots possibly promoting new root growth while killing the gnats at the larval stage.  I don’t think it worked.  I also read to allow the top 2 inches of the soil to dry, I am doing this but I still see adult gnats so eggs must still be hatching.  I’ll try the hydrogen peroxide treatment when I water them again.  The unbelievable thing is that it’s been about 2 weeks since I watered my elms (not exaggerating) and they have new leaves on the top.  Go figure.  I still have gnats though.  The first picture below shows what these gnats did to 3 of my elms.  I cut off the dead parts of the leaves on my currently thriving plants since gnats like the decomposition of organic matter.  They also do the most damage to seedlings and young plants, everything in my sun room basically.  I’m going to transplant the elms later today, add all new dirt and put them in new containers and then probably keep them outside.  Hopefully nature can take its course on these too then I can clean out the pests from my sun room and hopefully never have this problem in here again.  One can hope  🙂

As always, thanks so much for reading!

20160604_082246
Death of a young elm due to fungus gnats
Fungus gnat damage
Fungus gnat damage
New growth despite lack of water
New growth despite lack of water

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2 comments on “Garden Challenges – Ants, aphids and gnats, oh my!

shirley woomer

Really like this blog Julie. Keep up the good work!

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Jewels

Jewels

Hi! I'm Julie and I live in Harford County Maryland. I am currently a computer technician but I have a passion for photography and things that grow. One day I hope to have a small thriving plant nursery, where I can grow many things and take as many pictures of them as many ways as I like. They say if you do something you love you'll never work a day in your life, that's my goal.

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