The Aardvark Speaks : essence, effervescence, obscurity. Established 2002. A weblog by Horst Prillinger. ISSN 1726-5320

October 13, 2007

Concession speech

tabasco plantSummer started with me attempting to grow chilies, and not just any chilies, no, I had no fewer than twelve plants of ten different chili species. Summer was spent first pollinating them with cotton swabs and then showering them every other day because suddenly one day, the aphids had arrived. They had come over night from out of nowhere, and they were all over my jalapeños. Hundreds of them. From the jalapeños they spread to all the other plants, even those I had attempted to quarantine. In the process they essentially killed my gypos, and the korals only barely survived.

At one point they were suddenly gone, all of them, and there was no trace of them for two weeks. Then they returned with a vengeance.

Basically, for most of the summer I was not growing chilies, I had an aphid farm. My tabasco plant, while growing to a bush of enormous proportions, yielded only three chilies (pictured left), but must have been thousands and thousands of aphids. The other plants weren't quite as lethargic in terms of chili production (the "Domestic Siberian Pepper" was in fact fairly productive), but still the ratio of chilies to aphids felt like 1 to 100,000. If I was an ant, I would have been delighted. As I am am not an ant, I was desperately showering my plants, trying to pull them through summer until the last of the chilies would finally turn red.

I was told that cigarette tobacco soaked in water is an aphid deterrent. I can tell you that it does not work on aphids who live on chilies. I was told that you can buy ladybug larvae in shops that are catering for gardeners, but unfortunately, all these shops offered me was poison. I was told that to get 100 aphids, you don't need 10 papa aphids and 10 mummy aphids, you need just one single aphid. I totally believe that.

I finally gave up today and threw the last chili plant away. I herewith concede that the aphids have won. Big victory for them though, ending up in a garbage can. I hope they're enjoying themselves there. For the few days before they end up in the incinerator, ha ha.

Posted by Horst on October 13, 2007 07:32 PM to creatures great & small | Tell-a-friend
Andreas Fuchs said on October 15, 2007 12:30 AM:

The exact same thing happened to me this year. Given our spatial proximity, they might even be related. My yield was 5 Tepin chilies from two plants; last year, it was about 100 times that. Boo.

Horst said on October 15, 2007 12:52 AM:

You wouldn't know a shop that sells ladybug larvae, just to save next year's crop?

Sandra said on October 15, 2007 08:53 AM:

I had aphids on my oleander last year, and found some good advice here:
I tried the "Schmierseifenlösung" (even without Spiritus) and it worked. I poured the liquid into a spraying bottle for cleaning windows and sprayed it every day once or twice directly onto the insects till they let go. They were gone after a week or so.

Good luck next year!

dieter said on October 15, 2007 09:02 AM:

Last year, I tried to find a place to buy ladybugs, but in the end I gave up. After all, I only had flowers at that time. I just tried to google "Nützlinge" and "Blattläuse". There was quite a lot of information but no dealer at first glance. You might want to go on searching from there on...

Andreas Fuchs said on October 15, 2007 07:36 PM:

No idea where to get ladybugs in Austria. I thought about looking for them, but reconsidered when I first saw pictures of one. Ladybugs are cool, but I know them only from one-on-one meetings. Not sure if meeting hundreds in my bedroom would cure me of my sympathy.

Another thing I'm going to try next year is a petroleum-based spray, which ostensibly kills the aphids by drowing them (and creeping into their eggs), but doesn't affect the chilis themselves.

Jann said on October 16, 2007 09:09 AM:

Oh, burning them won't do any good! They'll probably just be reincarnated as bark beetles or tent caterpillars or something.

lisa said on November 2, 2007 10:33 AM:

I had the same thing happen this summer. I got one chili out of 5 plants before i gave up. There was some kind of vegetable based spray that seemed to work, but they would find even the tiniest bit of new growth and attack that before i could get to them.

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