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Odd question for gardeners

Posted on 05/19/2012 4:44:53 PM PDT by djf

Now I have lived in the same house for 20 tears. And years ago, right after we first moved in, my wife had planted these tea rose thingies.

That's ok. They can be a bit of a mess to take care of, but this year something happened for the very first time.

Rather it DIDN'T happen and it might be a mixed blessing, but wanted to ask fellow FReeper gardeners if they noticed the same thing.

Year after year, just about the first sign of life on the roses, late March or mid April FOR SURE is...


This year NOT ONE SINGLE APHID!! This is totally unheard of and beyond my experience gardening here in the Pacific Northwest.

Now I don't miss them at all. But it seems very strange. I haven't noticed a large increase in ladybugs or anything else that might effect them, and I didn't use and more or less pesticides than I have in the past.

Anybody have any ideas?

TOPICS: Gardening
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To: djf

Too bad, missing ants would explain missing aphids.

(OTOH, then we’d have to worry about why the ants are missing...)

21 posted on 05/19/2012 5:21:02 PM PDT by null and void (Day 1215 of our ObamaVacation from reality [and what dark chill/is gathering still/before the storm])
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To: djf

Here in Michigan, the few hot days we had in April brought a lot of the bugs out early only to be killed by the frost.

22 posted on 05/19/2012 5:21:38 PM PDT by cripplecreek (What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul?)
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To: djf

It’s been an odd spring in many places. All blooming things put on a show here, too. Can’t say about aphids since I went to a distinctly casual, low maintenance approach to my landscaping years ago and just wouldn’t have noticed and don’t have anything that would be all that adversely affected even if there were an infestation.

But, the lightning bugs are just amazing this year, normally not even seen until June, they’ve been out in force since early May, lighting up trees on the edges of fields like Christmas twinkle lights.

Very odd, but beautiful.

23 posted on 05/19/2012 5:22:55 PM PDT by RegulatorCountry
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To: djf
Maybe they all went south for the summer

Yes, they did. Thanks a lot. Like the squirrel aren't enough trouble.

24 posted on 05/19/2012 5:24:43 PM PDT by Darth Reardon (No offense to drunken sailors)
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To: berdie
It wasn't difficult to grow in another part of N. Texas, but I'm having Ole Billy with it here at the family estate property. Sandy here, black gumbo where I grew it before.

I'll be able to answer your question in a few years, after I get the kinks worked out or give up.


25 posted on 05/19/2012 5:25:52 PM PDT by JRandomFreeper (Gone Galt)
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To: cripplecreek

We did have a nasty, nasty ice storm back in January, and the tree limbs, plants, ground, everything was coated in ice for about three days.

Now I don’t know where aphids hang out in January or if an ice storm would bother them... I know one of the other PIA bugs we have around here is earwigs, and they breed and live in the ground during the winter. Sometimes doing spring digging, I hit a nest of them, and all the sudden like you see ten thousand tiny earwigs on your shovel (or gloves!!)
But they are basically scavengers and totally harmless.
Ugly, but harmless.

26 posted on 05/19/2012 5:27:48 PM PDT by djf ("There are more old drunkards than old doctors." - Benjamin Franklin)
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To: ansel12
Personally, I don't like store-bought cigarettes. They taste like crap and are harsh.

I've stuffed my own for over 15 years, and use good tobacco, either from a friend's farm in NC, or what I grow myself.


27 posted on 05/19/2012 5:29:44 PM PDT by JRandomFreeper (Gone Galt)
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To: djf

No aphids on my roses. I don’t have stink bugs either, although my neighbors all do.

Probably means I’m too nasty even for bugs.

28 posted on 05/19/2012 5:31:16 PM PDT by fatnotlazy
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To: berdie

If you can grow petunias you can grow tobacco. Lots of it planted around here, my dad’s family were tobacco planters going way back. Tobacco likes hot humid weather and a thunderstorm every couple of days with baking sun in between. East Texas should work, west I don’t know. Burley works in cooler climes, brightleaf in hotter ones. Burley is easier to cure.

29 posted on 05/19/2012 5:31:39 PM PDT by RegulatorCountry
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To: goseminoles; djf

“Aphids messed me up.. I used seven dust.. waiting to get flamed.. but that’s my post and I stick to it..”

Diatomaceous Earth (food grade): bug killer you can eat!

Diatomacious Earth (often referred to as “DE”) is an off white talc-like powder that is the fossilized remains of marine phytoplankton. When sprinkled on a bug that has an exoskeleton (such as bed bugs, ants or fleas) it gets caught between their little exoskeleton joints. As they move, the diatomaceous earth acts like razor blades and cuts them up. But it doesn’t hurt mammals. We can eat it. We do eat it! It’s in lots of grain based foods because lots of grains are stored with diatomaceous earth to keep the bugs from eating the grain!

Die bugs! Die! Die! Die!
I have heard two explanations of how diatomaceous earth works.

One is that on a microscopic level, the diatomaceous earth particles are very sharp looking. These particles stick to an insect and get stuck between its exoskeleton joints. As the insect moves, it gets physically cut up.

The other explanation is that diatomaceous earth sticks to the insect and somehow causes them to dry out. I think this approach involves scratching the insects waxy layer which then allows precious moisture within the insect to get out. So their teeny tiny bug-innards turn into teeny tiny bug-innards-jerky.

A reader, Sue, in Washington state writes:

Both are true and connected. DE is almost pure silica (with some beneficial trace minerals); under a microscope, it looks like shards of glass (glass is made from silica). On any beetle-type insect that has a carapace, like fleas and cockroaches, the DE works under the shell and punctures the body, which then dehydrates and the insect dies. DE is totally nontoxic. There is no buildup of tolerance like there is to poisons because the method of killing is PHYSICAL, not chemical.

The important thing to us is that if an insect with an exoskeleton gets diatomaceous earth on them, they die. At the same time, we can rub it all over our skin, rub it in our hair, eat it .... whatever ... and we are unharmed.

Diatomaceous earth kills all bugs. It has been reported to be the most effective solution when fighting pests like fleas, ants and bed bugs.

Farmers dump food grade diatomaceous earth by big scoops in with grains when the grains are stored. It kills the insects that want to feast on the grain. This is a great improvement over the stuff they used to put in with the grain.

Farmers feed gobs of diatomaceous earth (food grade) to animals in the hopes that it will cure whatever ails them. Many farmers swear that the stuff kills all sorts of worms in their critters.

Many people eat a quarter cup of food grade diatomaceous earth every day. They mix it into juice. I have visited with several people that are keen on living past 100 years that believe that eating lots diatomaceous earth every day will help them with that goal. I have found references where it is cited for colon cleansing, parasite control and detox.

One strange thing about diatomaceous earth is that for it to work on killing bugs, you have to keep it dry. Even morning dew can make diatomaceous earth ineffective.

I have encountered over a dozen ignorant boobs that have proclaimed “Diatomaceous Earth does NOT work!” I have read this statement in all caps. In extra big fonts. With italics. And I’ve even had it screamed at me. I’m gonna stick with “ignorant boobs”. On closer inspection of each case there is always a flaw. Usually the problem is that it was not used correctly. Diatomaceous earth is not a bait. If you put a little bit in a pile somewhere, the bugs are not drawn to it and invite all their friends. I kinda wonder if the pesticide companies pay people to go to internet forums and say this sort of thing. Diatomaceous earth is super cheap, non toxic, and generally more effective than anything the pesticide companies have to offer - so it kinda cuts into their profit margins a bit. I’ve been meaning to create an experiment to set the record straight on this topic, but a participant in the diatomaceous earth discussion, Stephanie, beat me to it:

I tried my own experiment with the diatomaceous earth to see how quickly it kills the fleas; I caught a few fleas and put them in a jar with a pinch of diatomaceous earth - all were dead within just a couple of hours.

It just doesn’t get any more clear than that.

How safe is diatomaceous earth?
The only known problem for people, mammals and birds that I have ever been able to find any reference to is breathing it in. For food grade diatomaceous earth, there is only the bother of breathing in any dust. There exists another variety of diatomaceous earth that has been fiddled with so it can be used for pool filters. The pool grade stuff would be bad for you because it contains up to 70% “crystalline silica”. My understanding is that if you work with the pool grade stuff all day, every day, for years, you could get cancer. Don’t mess with the pool grade stuff. Food grade diatomaceous earth will contain less than 1% crystalline silica.

This article is really about the pure, food grade diatomaceous earth. I have to say “food grade” over and over or some nitwit will quote a small slice and then bring up the pool grade issues.

I have heard from two people that said that they won’t use diatomaceous earth anymore because “the tiny particles cut my lungs!” -— (deep sigh goes here) All I can say is “Did you actually examine your lung with a microscope and watch the diatomaceous earth cut into it?” - of course, they did not. I think the truth behind these reports is that these folks heard how diatomaceous earth works, and when they would breathe in the dust, it would make them cough - just as breathing in flour or corn starch would make you cough. And then they thought of the sharpness at a microscopic level. My understanding is that when diatomaceous earth becomes moist, the sharp thing is no longer happening. That’s why you have to keep it dry when you use it.

I have heard that people working in the diatomaceous earth (food grade) mines have no greater health problems than the people working in any other mines. (I would like to get some sources for this info - if anybody has a link, please email me)

As long as you are using food grade diatomaceous earth, you are perfectly safe. Even if you breathe in gobs of it. Of course, if you are asthmatic or have lung problems of any kind, I would think breathing in big gobs of any kind of dust would be a bad idea.

gimmie gimmie gimmie!
There are a lot of varieties of diatomaceous earth, so when you are shopping, be sure to get the right stuff!

Make sure that you get food grade diatomaceous earth. Some people make 3% of the food they eat be diatomaceous earth. There are claims at parasite control, longevity and all sorts of perks. I know that food grade diatomaceous earth is used heavily in storing grains - so you are probably already eating lots of diatomaceous earth every time you eat any bread, pasta or other grain based food.

Farmers feed food grade diatomaceous earth to their animals to reduce parasites and provide other benefits.

Some places sell the diatomaceous earth (food grade) mixed with other stuff. And that is something I do not recommend. When I see a label that says “97% diatomaceous earth” I have to wonder what the other 3% is. If the packaging is about killing bugs, is it some sort of toxin? Did they add something like borates or pyrethrin for a little extra kick? I don’t want that!

Some places sell diatomaceous earth that is for swimming pool filters - that is definitely what you do NOT want.

Some places sell an 8 ounce shaker. I think it is wise to get at least a few pounds of the stuff. It keeps well (it’s already millions of years old) and is useful for so many things. And if you get too little, you are likely to not use enough.

So I’ve done a lot of research on this .... and I’ve used diatomaceous earth from about eight different sources ... and here is what I’m recommending: This is food grade diatomateous earth guaranteed to be “less than 0.5% crystaline silica”. After a long talk with the guy that runs this outfit, I found out that most of this diatomaceous earth runs about 0.1% to 0.2% crystaline silica. By far the best I’ve ever heard of.

diatomaceous earth (food grade)
This next one is food grade diatomaceous earth where all they would tell me is that it has less than 0.5% crystalline silica. Not as good as the stuff above, but still way better than the others I could find:

Diatomaceous Earth (food grade) - Five Pounds
Diatomaceous Earth (food grade) - Ten Pounds
Diatomaceous Earth (food grade) - Fifty Pounds
I made a diatomaceous earth podcast.

I have more to say about using diatomaceous earth to solve specific problems:

flea control
ants and aphids
sugar ants
carpenter ants
flea beetles
bed bugs
slug control
dry preservation of legumes and corn
pin worms
hens and mites

30 posted on 05/19/2012 5:35:50 PM PDT by GGpaX4DumpedTea
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To: djf

Don’t know what state you are in, but here due to the early warmth, the late cold, and maybe the great amount of water at the right time, our roses look and smell awesome this year. Usually they are eaten up by some sort of insect before they get so many blooms.

31 posted on 05/19/2012 5:38:26 PM PDT by madison10 (The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants. TJ)
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To: djf

They’re all down here in Alabama.

32 posted on 05/19/2012 5:45:26 PM PDT by Jemian
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To: djf

Ladybugs LOVE aphids! Please do not kill them and they will RICHLY reward you my EATING and KILLING all Aphids! Plus they are pretty and kinda cute to look at.

33 posted on 05/19/2012 5:46:25 PM PDT by US Navy Vet (Go Packers! Go Rockies! Go Boston Bruins! See, I'm "Diverse"!)
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To: djf

"....they all went to the aphidtheater"

34 posted on 05/19/2012 5:48:03 PM PDT by Doogle (((USAF.68-73..8th TFW Ubon Thailand..never store a threat you should have eliminated)))
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To: djf
There is a place down in the valley near me that has a ton of wild dill growing, I could go and snag some of that. For some reason, ladybugs absolutely love dill and the plants are usually covered with them.

I don't know it for a fact but I suspect the ladybugs love dill because there are a lot of pest category bugs there. Better find out for sure before you bring home something you wish you hadn't.

35 posted on 05/19/2012 5:59:34 PM PDT by TigersEye (Life is about choices. Your choices. Make good ones.)
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To: djf

Did your state or county agricultural dept do a mass lady bug release? Are you noticing more lady bugs? NC did this a few years ago and we had fewer aphids.

36 posted on 05/19/2012 6:03:54 PM PDT by kalee (The offenses we give, we write in the dust; Those we take, we engrave in marble. J Huett 1658)
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To: djf


37 posted on 05/19/2012 6:05:09 PM PDT by Vendome (Don't take life so seriously, you won't live athrough it anyway)
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To: TigersEye

There is another type of plant around here, not sure what exactly, some odd kind of azalea or camelia and the ladybugs love to lay their cocoons on it. In the spring, the plants are crawling with ladybug larvae, they look like black-and-orange alligator bugs!

38 posted on 05/19/2012 6:05:32 PM PDT by djf ("There are more old drunkards than old doctors." - Benjamin Franklin)
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To: JRandomFreeper; RegulatorCountry

Thanks for the info!

I’ve got good black soil that produces a great garden. Petunias? I am good with them until it gets too hot...but that may be partially my fault since I don’t pinch their little heads off.

Probably to late in the year to start this experiment...but I may give a couple of plants a try next spring.

39 posted on 05/19/2012 6:07:09 PM PDT by berdie
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To: djf

Enjoy it while you can.

We had no chiggers last summer in Texas, first time in my many decades of summers that I can remember not being chewed on. Didn’t even need OFF.

Why? It was so dry here there was no grass. Chiggers don’t live on bare ground or dead blades.

You’re probably just experiencing a temporary phenomenon.

40 posted on 05/19/2012 6:07:44 PM PDT by Jedidah ("In those days Israel had no king. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.")
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