I am battling aphids in my indoor system. I have literally tried everything: blasting them with water, insecticidal soap, neem oil (carefully applied), nightshade spray, diatomaceous earth, yellow stickies, begging the aquaponic gods. Nothing works! I am trying to stop a mass infestation especially since my system is indoors.
Has anyone ever shut down a system for an extended period of time to kill bugs? I was thinking that I would shut down the grow beds for a while and just use a big pond filter for my fish. So incredibly frustrated at the moment. I just put a lot of time into a rebuild.
I'll take any and all suggestions! Thanks!!
YOu still have options....One that I know that works is to make worm casting tea...BUT you have to follow this recipe...
+ 2/3 cup fresh worm castings (not from any sealed/air tight container - we need the naturally occurring microbial population to be alive)
+ Mix in 1 gallon of non-chlorinated water ( you can gas-off 'city' water over night).
+ Add 1 -2 Tablespoons of sugar or molasses (NOT honey - it has anti-microbial properties)
Option 1 - leave in a container for 12 - 24 hours with a fish tank air stone and air pump bubbling air into the mix....This works fastest and best during the winter if you do this indoors (temps 70- 90 degrees ).
Option 2 - Leave it in a container and every hour cover it and vigorously shake the container for 12 - 24 hours. IMPORTANT: Between times of shaking the container, but sure to release the lid so pressure will not build up in the container.
During this time the microbial population will exponentially increase, feeding on the sugar source. After 12 - 24 hours you can apply the tea.
To apply you will need to use a sprayer and cover the ENTIRE plants with the spray: top, sides and bottom.
The reason this works is that worm castings naturally contain an enzyme called chitinase. The exoskeletons of insects is composed of Chitin. The enzyme will attack the bodies of the aphids, and they will be gone.
Once you remove the tea from the aeration source, or you stop shaking the container hourly, the microbial population will begin to decline. You have abut 18- 24 hours to use the tea within before this effect declines significantly (however it will still serve as a top notch fertilizer)
If you have to buy a gallon or more of worm castings just be sure NOT to keep the container they are in closed, such that it is air tight. Also, do not let the castings dry out. You will have enough worm castings for many other beneficial applications that they can provide. Be sure you are actually using worm castings and NOT worm compost ( matter that has not completely been digested by the worms)
Due to the life cycle of aphids, you may need make more than one application.
WOrm castings and worm casting tea will not harm your plants, fish or AP system in anyway. It will not "burn" your plants in any concentration, It is completely safe to use around children, pets and fish.
My best to you in this!
Thanks again for the composting worms I bought from you a few years ago. Those worms, their descendants rather, are in 6 aquaponic gravel beds, three large outdoor composting bins and a half dozen raised gardening beds. In every new batch of compost, a handful of worms are introduced. Anyway, it was a cheap investment with returns which never end. They are amazing little critters.
Regards to you on the other coast
Glad to hear things are going so well for you in the vermiculture dept... I have to agree. Redworms are amazing. Easy keepers, and the benefits far outweigh any input that needs to be made.
Hopefully some of those benefits will help out Brendan.
Thanks for the help! I am definitely going to give this a try. I will not be beaten : )
Aphidoletes aphidimyza and Aphidius colemani work great together for aphid control. Aphidoletes handles large colonies of aphids, while A. colemani is great for upkeep and prevention. They're also quite small and unobstrusive, so they're great for indoor environments (you'll hardly notice them at all).
You're going to be spending more money than a $20 bottle of insecticide, but they'll do the work so you won't have to. Sprays only work if you're willing to do the work and apply them on the regular. Given my past history with pest control, I clearly am not :/
Quick heads up, shipping is pricey on these guys, so don't drop your jaw. Since they're live, they need to be shipped quickly.
Aphidoletes aphidimyza: http://www.evergreengrowers.com/aphid-control/aphidoletes-aphidimyz...
They aren't really the "infesting" type. They're predatory insects, and their diet consists solely of aphids.
Yeah, I would remove the sticky traps. Not everything that sticks to those is a pest, and it's best to give your beneficial insects as much of a chance as possible.
Also, beneficial insects don't react well to insecticides (obviously). Sometimes there are a few ones that you can get away with, but aphidoletes aphidimyza is extremely sensitive to pesticides. If you want them to stick around, it's best not to apply anything around them.
Shipping is the expensive part of the insects, so I've found it best to introduce other preventative beneficials while your at it. N. Californicus is a good preventative for spider mites and can live off of flower pollen. Amblyseius cucumeris is a good preventative for thrips. (evergreen growers has some cheap A. cucumeris slow release packets for $1 ea.)
N. californicius: http://www.evergreengrowers.com/mite-control/neoseiulus-californicu...
I buy ladybugs from a local nursery and they do the trick for a while, but they tend to move on once the food supply (aphids) dry up. But are pretty cheap and easy to get.