I want to keep my fall crops going, but all of the sudden they are covered in bugs, especially my broccoli and arugula. What are these insects and how can I control them?
It happens every year to me too. Just as the temperatures lower and my cool season crops start to pick up faster growth, the insects find them. Let’s talk about which ones are problematic this time of year and what we can do to mitigate their damage without using harmful insecticides.
These 1/6-inch long pests love to find new, green growth. They especially love flower and seed heads, but in my garden, never more so than on the brassicas. Besides seeing their pear-shaped bodies, the other indication they are a problem is the puckering they present on leaves. The best treatment I have found—especially on my cauliflower, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, and Romanesco—is a weekly spray of one teaspoon Dawn dish soap to one quart water mixture. As an alternative for making your own, insecticidal soaps can also be purchased. Soap has been used for pest control for over two hundred years and works by allowing the fatty acids to come into direct contact with the insect’s cell membrane walls, which are penetrated then dehydrate the creature to death. Staying on top of aphids is key. They will keep multiplying within a few days, leaving a sticky substance all over the plants that not only make them unappetizing, but also encourages mold growth. If aphids get too cramped, they will sprout wings and fly off to find more victims in the garden. Should the weekly treatment of soap not do the trick to rid the plants of these pests, try neem oil, mentioned below.