Controlling Aphids

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Question: We've noticed some aphids on the indoor herb plants we grew from seed. What do we do? I don't want to use any poison since I have children and we all eat these herbs.

Answer: The good news is that the aphids can be controlled. The first step is to remove all damaged or weakened leaves, stems, or flowers. Next, make sure that you haven't over-fertilized your plants; aphids love leaves with high levels of nitrogen. The best solution is to invite some ladybugs to your house for dinner. (Aphids are a ladybug's favorite meal.) If you're lucky enough to have ladybugs, gently put them on the aphid-infected plant, and your aphids will disappear.

Alternately, give the plants a soapy shower by spraying them with an insecticidal soap solution. Insecticidal soap is similar to dish soap but it's more mild and less likely to damage the plants. Thoroughly rinse the leaves before you eat them. The gentle soap solution may not taste very good, but won't harm anyone who eats some. Because the aphids are inside, carefully examine all your other houseplants and treat any infected ones immediately. As with all pests, the sooner you rid plants of them, the better.

An ounce of prevention includes periodic aphid-checks, keeping the plants watered but not soaked, using fresh soil mix, and providing sufficient air and nutrients.

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