At the moment, the main insects on my radar are the 17-year cicadas that will crawl out of the ground any day now, cover everything in sight, deafen us with their mating songs, lay eggs, and then drop dead. They have yet to emerge from hibernation, at least in my neighborhood. I’m happy to delay the moment as long as possible, even if it is an historic event. Raking a blanket of cicada carcasses off the lawn isn’t among my favorite gardening activities.
Capitalizing on this lull before the storm, however, another insect group took up residence in the rose garden — aphids. I am a welcoming sort, but not when it comes to critters trying to suck the life out of my newly planted roses, which are just beginning to bud.
So I squirted them. As carefully and naturally as possible. I added 2 tbsp. dishwashing liquid and 2 tbsp. vegetable oil to 32 oz. of water in a spray bottle and then sprayed each of the roses — buds and foliage together, sliding off as many aphids as I could with my fingers (that’s where the oil comes in handy).
Should the aphids put in another appearance, I may need to reduce the amount of soap in the solution — and/or rinse the roses afterward. I didn’t rinse this time because I knew it would rain later that day and it did, but obviously not before the damage was done. On the plus side, the roses are pest free, though some of the leaves are a bit speckled. Safe to say, gardening is a never-ending learning process, and I have a lot to learn….
Next task: watching for the aphids’ cousins to emerge — yes, cicadas are related to aphids.