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Don't Let Bugs Suck The Life Out Of Your Garden

Luke Jones
Creative Commons/Flickr

With the June heat come June bugs, which seem to spring up out of nowhere, and can be frustrating to deal with in the garden.

This year is prolific with aphids. They came with the warm weather -- and they’re staying.

Aphids are pear shaped, sucking insects. They vary from a sixteenth to almost a quarter of an inch in size. They come in a variety of colors from bright green to woolly grey to black. Although similar, there are aphids that attack specific plants: asparagus aphid, peach aphid, rose aphid and woolly apple aphid.

Aphid colonies seem to bloom out of nowhere. Aphids can reproduce without any males. The females are born pregnant. One female lays hundreds of eggs. The newly hatched aphids begin laying more eggs within a week. One Saturday you may see no aphids in the garden and the next week they’re all over the place.

Aphids feed by sucking the juices out of plants. The plants are less vigorous. The leaves are pale. Some aphids produce a toxin that deforms the plant. Leaf curling aphids on Ash trees literally curl the leaf around the colony.

Diseases are also passed along by aphids. The aphid causes minimal damage. The disease kills or deforms vegetables, flowers and berries.

Aphids are fairly easy to control. Small infestations can be sprayed off with a strong spray of water. Natural predators will attack aphids. But before the predators strike the aphid population and damage will be pretty high. Groups of aphids can be smashed. A glove is recommended because they’re juicy.

Leaf curling aphids are the hardest to control. A systemic insecticide is the only way to kill the colony. Early sprays of insecticidal soap or horticultural oils on susceptible plants help.

Credit www.colostate.edu

Another group of insects that are becoming a big problem are the Engraver Beetles, also known as Ips Beetles. These beetles attack pine and spruce. Native stands of pinion pine are stressed by years of drought. The opportunistic Ips beetle attacks the weak tree and kills it. The same is true for spruce.

The best control for this boring beetle is to keep trees healthy. Avoid damaging the tree. Water regularly and deeply. Especially water during late fall and through the winter.


Tom has been offering garden advice on KUNC for almost two decades. During that time he has been the wholesale sales manager at Ft. Collins Nursery, Inc. Since January of 2005 he has been the owner and operator of Throgmorton Plant Management, LLC., a landscape installation and maintenance company as well as a horticultural consulting firm. He lives in northern Ft. Collins with his wife and two kids.
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