Monday 2 July 2012

A Brief Encounter (with my peppers)

What is the difference between a garden expert and a novice gardener? The expert knows why his plant has died!

My normal defense against pests is to fail to wear my reading glasses. Three days ago I opened my eyes and examined my peppers in the greenhouse. They looked extremely moribund and were plastered (technical term!) with aphids, greenfly in this case.

Aphids: they are also known as plant lice and in Britain as greenflies, or blackflies 

I don’t know if they had succumbed to aphid because they were stressed (it happens) or more likely, the stress was due to the aphids. I immediately went into cultural control mode. I gently slid my finger over the underside of the quite large oval leaves and dislodged as many as possible. They parachuted out in droves. Then, with my finger over the end of the hosepipe, I managed to squirt away those I’d missed.

There is method in this madness. I would not get all the aphids, but some kind of balance would be restored with their predators. Of course, I could have got out my 65 pence little sprayer, but that would have been too much trouble and may have also harm the beneficial ladybirds.

This morning, even with my specs, I could see very few aphids and the peppers looked a little better.

And then a snail made a call....


  1. Great ladybird photo!
    I've also read about harlequin ladybirds - are they also beneficial for aphid control or is it just regarded as a pest?

  2. Thanks for the compliment! actually the pictures of the ladybird and the aphid are not mine!
    I have paid a price for this, the caption on the aphid is WRONG! The pest we know as whitefly in the UK is NOT an aphid!
    There are hundreds of aphids and some may be white! however
    Very often gardeners see the moulted white skins of greenfly everywhere and think they have whitefly!
    As to your question. The harlequin aphid feeds voraceously on aphid. If I knew how I would send you a link to an excellent article by Jeff Thompson in the Telegraph
    Cathi-next door my blog guru will no doubt tell me.

  3. yuk I have just posted harlequin aphid. I mean LADYBIRD

  4. Mea culpa. The picture is indeed from next door's garden. Doesn't everyone just love a good debate? The caption, however, is direct from Wiki where there is rather a good description of aphids.
    As far as I am concerned, if a gardener has a massive infestation of aphids, he/she cannot afford to be sniffy about what sort of ladybird is helping to clear them. However, I am sure that more committed environmentalists would almost certainly disagree with me.

    1. Oh no you are not, you have stimulated a debate (and by the way, great picture, I did not know you took it yourself) Wikipedia does give whitefly as an example of an aphid but also goes onto say -'not to confused with true whiteflies'. Horticulture is a minefield of such misunderstandings, there is no reason really that aphids which are white should not be called whiteflys so mea culpa. However I am adamant that the true whitefly recognised as such by 95% of gardeners is different in its biological nature, its life cycle,as a garden problem and its controls biological and chemical, IS NOT AN APHID.As to your second comment I agree, there are hundreds of different kinds of aphids and many different ladybirds and sometimes it will not matter which ones you have.

  5. If Harlequins feed so avidly on aphids of any sort, why do gardeners hate them, especially organic gardeners? From your earlier posts about spraying with Roundup, I assumed you were NOT an organic gardener Mr Brook? Or is that shudder just a reaction to the environmental lobby?
    I do like your cemeteries!

  6. Hello Poppy. good question We all hate them because they are pushing out our own biologically diverse ladybirds. Perhaps someone will come in with amore detailed explanation.
    No I am not organic, there are self imposed restrictions that I do not agree with. I hope if you follow my blog you will find I am more environmentally friendly than many organic gardeners. I love organic matter!


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