Black in the Garden - Blackfly

‘Hands up who likes blackfly’?  No, we don’t either.  They often appear suddenly in the garden and can cause several problems that need to be dealt with.

The bean aphid Aphis fabae is probably the one most commonly seen in gardens where vegetables are grown.  With populations developing rapidly on the tender growing tips, quick action is required.  Gardeners who visit their plants on a daily basis will hopefully spot any signs of infestation quickly; a quick rub with the fingers and the problem is gone.

If you haven’t visited for several days and the problem is more advanced there are a number of solutions.  Try blasting the aphids off with a hosepipe; this can work very very well.  Failing that a solution containing horticultural soap can be sprayed on them.  This suffocates the aphid but baear in mind it is indiscriminate and will kill beneficial creatures too.  Spray late in the evening when activity has stopped and avoid spraying plants that are in flower.

Another alternative is to simply pinch out the growing tips of the plant.  This removes most of the aphids in one go.  Don’t forget though that these tender bean tips are wonderful cooked, so don’t miss out if you haven’t tried them before.

Aphids can also appear on cherry trees whose specific aphid is called Myzus cerasi.  This is harder to deal with.  It does look unsightly but luckily flowering and fruiting are rarely affected.  We often get them on the young shoots of philadelphus but have found that there’s no need to spray; they soon disappear when the local blue tits discover them.