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How are people tackling the bugs that find our systems?  I've been using a combination of beneficial insects (mainly ladybugs) and spraying with insecticidal soap when I have to...but I worry about the effect that using too much of that might have on the fish.  If a plant is pretty small (lettuces, greens, beans, peppers) and is pretty bug infested I'll take it out of the media and let it soak in the fish tank for about 15 minutes. the bugs drown, and the fish seem to love them.

I know some people use neem oil with success.  What are the downsides?  What else do you guys use?

Also, my most buggy plants are salad greens and peppers.  They've stayed totally off my herbs, broccoli, and tomatoes.  What have other's experience been with this?  Any hypothesis as to why?  Travis thinks it has something to do with nitrogen levels...

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I have heard of blending up dead bugs to "inoculate" the plants with "bug diseases"  I don't know how well it would work.

 

There is the method of swishing the plants in the fish tank to try and dislodge the aphids and perhaps give the fish a treat but I don't know if that works for plants that you would be selling.


Green Acre Organics said:

We have a terrible aphid problem.  They are attacking only the older plants and particularly arugala, chard, kale and chinese cabbage.  Interestingly they have not touched any of the newest seedlings or any lettuces.  We set loose 4500 ladybugs three days ago and have not seen great results yet, perhaps we will see better results when the larvae hatch.  It was very peculiar that when released, nearly every single lady bug immediately began migrating North.  Perhaps a dozen didn't.  Now more than anything, they are congregating in the greenhouse corners and 'making lady bug babies' but doing very little eating!  We will be trying the combination of soap, oil, molasses and water soon.  We were told yesterday to try blending several of the aphids with rain water and then spray this mixture on the aphid infested plants.  Anyone heard of that solution? Thanks. 
We may try the swishing, but seems rather labor intensive for the amount of plants we have. 

TCLynx said:

I have heard of blending up dead bugs to "inoculate" the plants with "bug diseases"  I don't know how well it would work.

 

There is the method of swishing the plants in the fish tank to try and dislodge the aphids and perhaps give the fish a treat but I don't know if that works for plants that you would be selling.


Green Acre Organics said:

We have a terrible aphid problem.  They are attacking only the older plants and particularly arugala, chard, kale and chinese cabbage.  Interestingly they have not touched any of the newest seedlings or any lettuces.  We set loose 4500 ladybugs three days ago and have not seen great results yet, perhaps we will see better results when the larvae hatch.  It was very peculiar that when released, nearly every single lady bug immediately began migrating North.  Perhaps a dozen didn't.  Now more than anything, they are congregating in the greenhouse corners and 'making lady bug babies' but doing very little eating!  We will be trying the combination of soap, oil, molasses and water soon.  We were told yesterday to try blending several of the aphids with rain water and then spray this mixture on the aphid infested plants.  Anyone heard of that solution? Thanks. 

Yea, I expect so.  But so is removing the plants from the system in order to spray with most of the soap or oil products that you don't want to be spraying inside the greenhouse with the fish system.

Good luck with whatever you try.

Green Acre Organics said:

We may try the swishing, but seems rather labor intensive for the amount of plants we have. 


Ive used a mixture of Garlic and dawn dish soap on the plants(2 cloves, 1 tbs/litre water) and it worked great. Water got bubbly for a few hours in the troughs but it didnt hurt any of the 120+ fish in the system and I trteated several times.

Just make sure you get most of it on the plants and you wont get much in the water.

Also, bugs attack certain types of plants while leaving other types alone so if you keep having problems with a specific type, switch it up and see how the bugs react. I was getting aphids all over a burpee sweet mesculin mix so I switched to a different companies mesculin mix and the bugs didnt touch them. They just loooove certain types. They also attack weaker plants, which have a thinner cell wall and are much easier for the aphids to pull juices from. If you have a highly infected plant thats looking weak and droopy, REMOVE IT! Toss that bad boy and get a new one started. Aphids usually start small but before you know it it's an infestation. Bugs are natures way of naturally selecting the healthiest plants to live on and propagate. The bugs take care of the weak ones.
Your first round of plants may have become stressed for some reason. Once plants get the funk they seen to never recover and it is better to remove them. Your new seedlings are not being attacked and that is telling you something. Any IPM such as ladybugs are intended to keep bugs from getting to the point of becoming infested and  not so much for dealing with an infestation. The ladybugs should help a lot but will take time. You might want to remove the infested plants and make room for your unaffected seedlings.

Green Acre Organics said:
We have a terrible aphid problem.  They are attacking only the older plants and particularly arugala, chard, kale and chinese cabbage.  Interestingly they have not touched any of the newest seedlings or any lettuces.  We set loose 4500 ladybugs three days ago and have not seen great results yet, perhaps we will see better results when the larvae hatch.  It was very peculiar that when released, nearly every single lady bug immediately began migrating North.  Perhaps a dozen didn't.  Now more than anything, they are congregating in the greenhouse corners and 'making lady bug babies' but doing very little eating!  We will be trying the combination of soap, oil, molasses and water soon.  We were told yesterday to try blending several of the aphids with rain water and then spray this mixture on the aphid infested plants.  Anyone heard of that solution? Thanks. 

Hi there,

A few weeks back I had an aphid problem, it was around the time of the first freezing temps we had here..the fish weren't eating and maybe it stressed the plants out. Anyway, I sprayed them with diluted Dr. Bronners peppermint (castille soap) and worked like magic.
Green Acre Organics said:

We have a terrible aphid problem.  They are attacking only the older plants and particularly arugala, chard, kale and chinese cabbage.  Interestingly they have not touched any of the newest seedlings or any lettuces.  We set loose 4500 ladybugs three days ago and have not seen great results yet, perhaps we will see better results when the larvae hatch.  It was very peculiar that when released, nearly every single lady bug immediately began migrating North.  Perhaps a dozen didn't.  Now more than anything, they are congregating in the greenhouse corners and 'making lady bug babies' but doing very little eating!  We will be trying the combination of soap, oil, molasses and water soon.  We were told yesterday to try blending several of the aphids with rain water and then spray this mixture on the aphid infested plants.  Anyone heard of that solution? Thanks. 
Did you use the 1/2 tsp per quart concentration Michelle?

Thanks for all the advice guys!  I think our best solution is going to be to trash the badly infested plants and replace with new healthy seedlings.  We had some issues at start up and definitely had some traumatized plants, so they were obviously stressed and less resilient.  The freezing temps certainly did not help when we were trying to get started.  Going forward it seems that IPM with our lady bugs should provide enough control once we get rid of the bad ones. 

I need to work on keeping better records...sounds like what I did, think I mixed up about 2 qts water with 1 tsp Dr. Bronners.

Christian James said:
Did you use the 1/2 tsp per quart concentration Michelle?

Has anyone used Diatomatious Earth to repel ants/aphids in a DWC system? I am unable to find information about the consequences of DE getting into the water and any possible effects on the fish. My understanding after reading   http://www.richsoil.com/diatomaceous-earth.jsp

and http://www.permies.com/permaculture-forums/2249_0/organic-practices... <-- AWESOME

is that DE has no effect on humans and other mammals from INGESTING it. Breathing it is another story and to be avoided. 

Since fish don't have an exoskeleton, i wonder if it would be okay to use in aquaponics? The application plan was to sprinkle some DE near the edge of the rafts, and around the net pots of infected plants. Any experience out there?

I don't believe there is any danger in using it (but I would avoid breathing the dust, just because breathing any dust is kinda bad)  However, it might be kinda minimally effective in a wet environment.  Now if you can dust the plants, undersides of the leaves it might be more effective against the aphids.  If you have ants farming the aphids though, the DE is only minimally effective against them in a wet environment.  The DE has to be a dry powder to be effective against the tougher insects like ants.

I doubt there will be any negative effects on the fish, DE is comprised of fossilized Diatoms which are just algae that occurs naturally in tanks.  I have used it around my DWC, but not extensively - hard to keep it dry here in Hawaii, but probably of some benefit.

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