This year at Northview there is a heavy infestation of aphids on the cup plants. Aphids are a type of insect that can reproduce asexually and reproduction is rapid. They insert their sharp proboscis into the phloem (the vessels carrying plant nutrients) and suck food out of the leaf. The aphids are clustered on the undersides of the leaf especially on the new growth at the top of the six to eight foot plants.
At Northview we hand squash the aphids or spray them off with a strong spray of water. However, this year there are more aphids then we can squash and there are not many ladybugs around to eat them; we are still waiting for the ladybug population to catch up with the aphid population. We all recognize the adult ladybugs (or ladybirds as we call them in Britain) but we not know about the wiggly juvenile ladybugs that are black and segmented (see photo below). Both the adult and the larvae devour large quantities of aphids.
One of the reasons not to use an insecticide is that it will indiscriminately kill both the beneficial and non beneficial insects. I prefer to take minor measures against aphids but not to worry too much. Gardening is meant to be a non-stressful activity so ignore the sucking aphids and find a nice flower to look at instead.
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