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I have some type of egg or larvae on the bottom of my squash leaves. It looks like yellow eggs and they are accompanied with a flurry of ants. The ants don't seem to be eating these eggs, more like waiting on whatever comes out of them. Does anybody have an idea what we have here? Are they pest or partners? And how should I deal with them?

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These are definitely aphids.  Try to rinse all of the eggs off and get some lacewings....or, if that's the only leave infected, cut the leaf off, dispose of it, and make sure none of your other plants are infested.

One of you suggested planting sunflowers nearby to lure the aphids and the ants away from the growbeds, I have a bunch of sunflower seeds which I will start growing immediately but how far away is too far away? I was thinking of planting them along a fenceline that's about 20 feet away.

@Phil: Which household cleanser works best? We sprinkled comet around the base of each of the grow beds this morning and the ants seem to be marching right through it?

...and my last question is about growing certain plants and herbs to attract the right kind of insects, what should we plant to attract lady bugs and the other insects?

The cheapest generic powered cleanser you can find.  Where are you located?

Central Florida, Polk County

Tough critters.  I rv'd in Polk County, we must have had the wuss ants.  Never had 'em in the motor home with cleanser sprinkled thick around the tires on all 3 axles.  Then it might have been that wife that kept em away ...

  If you can get some worm castings, you can make a freshly brewed worm casting tea.  Spray this on the leaves of your palnts.  It will get rid of the aphids.  The chitinase which naturally present in worm castings, is an enzyme that attacks the exo-skeleton of hard bodied insects.  This is why the tea works to get rid of many insect pests.  You have to spray the top and bottom surfaces of the leaves.

   I have been told that many gardeners use nasturtium flowers to attract aphids away from other areas of thier gardens.  We plant nasturiums, but we have never had aphids in our gardens.  I like nasturiums because the entire plant is edible and tastey.  The flowers make a tastey and decorative addition to salads and a great garnish for many dishes.  The leaves and stems are great in salads.  The leaves make an excellent roll-up wrap (mix chopped cheese, onion, & peas and mayo and wrap in nasturtium leaf. Tie closed with chive stem).  The seeds can be saved and ground and used like you would pepper.  In an AP system, you may not get as many flowers, due to the fact that this plant responds well to high nutrient levels with great greenery growth, rather than flowering.  The greenery is very tastey though, and should do the trick of luring away aphids, if you want to go that route instead of using worm castig tea or any other aid.

Maybe...that's why I asked if you knew which one she was using...I think I'm going to try Borax before I give up on that one.

Phil Slaton said:

Tough critters.  I rv'd in Polk County, we must have had the wuss ants.  Never had 'em in the motor home with cleanser sprinkled thick around the tires on all 3 axles.  Then it might have been that wife that kept em away ...


Holy Cow!  I never knew that about Nasturtiums!  I'm not sure I even realized they were edible.  That's awesome, I'll have to look for some next time I go to the garden center.   I have some dill seeds which I have heard several times so I'm going to sprinkle a few in the grow beds and I have 2 packets of "mammoth" sunflower seeds that I will plant around the yard to give the aphids something to munch out of the growbeds.  The Cayenne Pepper spray is working great on the ants on the plants.  I used 2 cups hot water, 3 tbsp cayenne pepper, 2 tbsp garlic powder, 2 tbsp mineral oil, and 2 tbsp of natural dish soap, let it sit overnight, drained the solids, used a clear plastic garbage bag as a drop cloth under the the plants to keep it from getting in to the system.  I will let you know if there were any adverse effects to the worms or the fish but so far that seems to be working.  Wish me luck and keep the suggestions coming. 


Converse said:

  If you can get some worm castings, you can make a freshly brewed worm casting tea.  Spray this on the leaves of your palnts.  It will get rid of the aphids.  The chitinase which naturally present in worm castings, is an enzyme that attacks the exo-skeleton of hard bodied insects.  This is why the tea works to get rid of many insect pests.  You have to spray the top and bottom surfaces of the leaves.

   I have been told that many gardeners use nasturtium flowers to attract aphids away from other areas of thier gardens.  We plant nasturiums, but we have never had aphids in our gardens.  I like nasturiums because the entire plant is edible and tastey.  The flowers make a tastey and decorative addition to salads and a great garnish for many dishes.  The leaves and stems are great in salads.  The leaves make an excellent roll-up wrap (mix chopped cheese, onion, & peas and mayo and wrap in nasturtium leaf. Tie closed with chive stem).  The seeds can be saved and ground and used like you would pepper.  In an AP system, you may not get as many flowers, due to the fact that this plant responds well to high nutrient levels with great greenery growth, rather than flowering.  The greenery is very tastey though, and should do the trick of luring away aphids, if you want to go that route instead of using worm castig tea or any other aid.

I do add pepper too jut forgot to add that to the recipe: garlic ,cinnamon , pepper , oil, soap. Diffently don't get it in the water. And I often  just spray hard under the leaves where there is a bad infestation  with water to break the cycle of eggs, larva, adult....... I have screens in my greenhouse for windows so that I can let ladybugs go .
Sheri Schmeckpeper said:

Phil-LOL!

In the AP I use 1 cayenne pepper or about 1/4 tsp to, about 3 or 4 C of water. Jane's cinnamon/clove concoction is a good one, too.Maybe this year I'll combine all three.

I use water instead of oil in AP for the reasons TCLynx noted. Oil can gum up media, too. The benefit of the oil is it makes the stuff stick to the leaves.

Also, if you have worms, be nice and don't get any on them.

instead of putting cleanser on the ground I spread dry coffee grounds around,  the ants don't like them.Eggshells broken up on the ground to keep the slugs away and if you are trying to keep cats away from an area ground up or small pieces of orange peel.

I would like to recommend a book called The Truth About Garden Remedies by Jeff Gilliam. He's a botanist but also committed to organic gardening. He actually tested all of these techniques and then rated them. It's an excellent book and very reliable. He gives credit to things such as garlic and hot pepper and debunks other stuff that doesn't work. Very, very good book. 

What is the common ingredient in the cleansers that makes "any of them will work just fine"?

Phil Slaton said:

The cheapest generic powered cleanser you can find.  Where are you located?

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