GREETINGS MY GREEN FRIENDS, and welcome to another addition in my pest series in, The Highway. Root aphids literally suck. They bore into roots tapping the plants for nutrients and leaving behind those “open wounds” on the roots that things like parasitic fungi like to take advantage of. For you serious all-natural growers in soil, you know that there are likely soil mites present in your soil, and these are really good-guys. Root aphids and soil mites can pretty easily be confused with each other. A few things make them easy to distinguish. I’ll share those things, along with a way I have used to combat them for friends that have been infested with root aphids. Get comfy, do a couple rips and away we go…
Rule #1 is: Avoid These Pests Proactively
These parasites come in a wide range of colors, some are camouflaged, some are white, and I read that even pink is a possibility—pretty sure it would be easy to notice pink ones, heh heh—anyway, since they lay eggs in soil/compost; also, they can leave eggs on plants, especially during their flying stage. So first of all, I would suggest you make sure your air intake for your indoor gardens is screened; better yet draw air from an alternate source that is not directly outside. I draw my air flow passively through/from my house, so I can easily avoid the flying version of these Root Aphids (and many other “bad guys”) from getting sucked in.
Commercially available soil, as I have read many accounts of, possibly can contain dormant Root Aphid eggs, so this is of big concern to many of you, and these appear to be prevalent especially along the west coast, USA. Now myself, I have never had the “pleasure” of getting these little parasites, but I have helped several people personally get rid of them, and I’ll share that info in a bit. I use G&B brand Potting Soil, for transplanting freshly rooted clones into, and I have never gotten these Root Aphids; I have been a loyal G&B fan for at least 5 years now, and if I am teaching someone how to make their own soil blend, that’s a perfect starting mix, in my opinion and experience. I recycle all my soil and re amend it, so it is a bit too strong for freshly rooted clones. So, I guess the bottom line here is think about your intake venting, and finding a good bagged soil that hopefully won’t have any of these pests (or others) along for the ride waiting to happen in your garden.
Identifying These Root-Sucking Minibeasties
They like hanging around on top (very shallow and often along sides of pots) of the soil. In hydro gardens they can swarm roots utterly—but at first glance when growing in soil, appear much like soil mites, which are totally beneficial to your plants. One thing they do different is if they have been there awhile, Root Aphids will leave kind of a chalky residue where they are concentrated at; don’t confuse calcium “lime” build up with this if you use harder water, or a lot of liquid fertilizers, or salty teas. Also, upon closer examination with a magnifying glass or Jeweler’s Loupe, you can see telltale signs these are not mites at all, and the very familiar little “spouts or pipes” can be seen on these bad-guys like their cousins, regular aphids have on their rear abdomen. Soil mites do not have these. Another dead give-a-way is that the Root Aphids are insects and have 6 legs; soil mites are more like spiders and ticks and also have 8 legs.
They like the plant roots closest to the surface of the soil, and even can often be seen where the main stem meets the soil line. When you are transplanting plants have a look in the containers after you have pulled out the root ball, they are often along sided of containers, and so, will also be on roots down the sides as well. Soil mites wander around in the soil processing organic matter and never have their attention on the actual living plant at all. The Root Aphids will be gathered near plant roots, especially right off the main stem, and while some will be wandering most will be feeding on the plant until disturbed. Again, keep eyes peeled for that chalky white residue they leave behind, that is one of the Root Aphids’ signature marks.
Getting Rid of Root Aphids
I have used predatory nematodes, which themselves are alive and kill a wide range of pests in the soil, without causing any harm to earthworms, pets, or people. I have used these to help friends out with Root Aphid problems 4 or 5 times with 100% success ratio, and total eradication. Here’s the link to these predator nematodes at Amazon. Make sure to read all the instructions carefully/thoroughly so you don’t waste your money. These will cost you about $30.00 USD: LINK: http://a.co/5bcucGh
Make sure to wash out all your growing containers always, and thoroughly between plants. The nematodes work best in moist soil, so I always water the plants 24 hours before using the nematodes, and I also apply the nematodes just before lights out/darkness. I have never had to drench the roots with these nematodes, I simply use about 2 cups of the nematode-inoculated water, per 3 gallons of container size you are treating. Within 10 days they were gone using this method.
Rev Rambles at the End
Sorry for the lack of predator photos, my gardens are just literally pest free almost all the time. Every 4 or 5 years I get hit with something, usually garden-variety spider mites. In my next article here in The Highway, I will share with you all how to use what I call “The Nuclear Option” to rid yourselves of certain infestations of things like mutant-strong spider mites, and russet mites. I showed you how to get rid of Powdery Mildew already in this series, along with Fungus Gnats. Important to note these nematodes also kill Thrips. I hear from some of you guys who get hit with these—knocking on wood—I have never had these in my life, and I’m good with that, heh heh.
Personally, I would rather get pest advice from an all-natural style grower, that didn’t have pest problems, rather than a pest infested advisor—sometimes I just think funny things. So, go into your preferred online search engine and check out some photos of Root Aphids, and Soil Mites as well. The next article is gonna be a big one, revolving around a radical move to become pest free, and tips how to stay that way. Cheers humans, until next time; keep the shiny side up and the dirty side down.
PS: the bud photo is a Riffraff Thai, under a full spectrum CX-6 LED 350w, in a Gorilla Tent; All TLO All the Time. Here’s the link to my latest book on Amazon: http://a.co/hPmAjwe