First of all, howdy. I've been lurking for about a week, and very much
like the tone and content here. I'm a long time user of newgroups
(specifically rec.music.a-cappella, and alt.music.a-cappella back in
the early 90's), and it's nice to find a new community for a my new
hobby (now that I have a garden).
Onto the question (the first of many, I'm sure):
I live in San Francisco, and recently (April, 2003) bought a house
with 3 dwarf apple trees in the back yard. All were infested with
wooly aphids. I like to keep an organic garden, so I was told by
several sources that my best bet was to squirt them off with a hose.
And squirt I did. All summer and fall. It was like a carnival game,
but the balloon never popped.
I kept the trees clean, and yet the little monsters would come back.
At first every day or two, then twice a week, then once a week, and
now I hardly see them.
In the summer, the sunniest tree was covered with leaves, and by fall
it provided a nice harvest. The largest tree, second sunniest, was
covered with leaves, and sent up some verticle shoots, but never bore
fruit. I'm bullish that it'll be in full force next year.
However, the third tree, the runt (3 feet high) and least sunny of the
three, is still a sad sight. A few full-size leaves, and some tiny
ones, but mostly a skeleton.
I understand wooly aphids go underground this time of year, attaching
themselves to roots. It's not unlike the Alien from the movie of the
same name - keeps changing form, keeps coming up with new ways to make
your life miserable.
All of the builds up to the following questions:
1) What are my runty tree's chances?
2) If it's likely to die, would I be doing my other trees a service by
pulling it up, bringing the root-born aphids with it, or would they
jump ship and go bother my other trees?
3) Is there anything I can do during the winter to fight these
4) Next year, what should I do to hopefully be rid of them once and
for all? I read somewhere that the'll change form once again, and send
crawlers up the trunks. Is this right? Will fatty acid soaps do the
trick (they're not much effective when the aphid is in "wooly" stage,
protected by the "wool," but will that be gone in the next
incarnation? Any natural pests (the regular aphids on my Meyer Lemon
tree became a tasty snack for ladybugs)?
5) Anything else I should know?
- Deke Sharon