Mighty Mites

plants on deck: melon aphidsplants on deck: melon aphidsPlants on Deck’s bane is back. Like clockwork the pesky sap-sucker, this time we’re looking at melon aphids, has made a mess out of POD’s cucumber patch.

With a little discouragement from UMass Amherst and Clemson, identification is hovering around 99.9%. Even more depressingly, POD never realized what a wide array of life-sucking aphids existed.

Adding insult to injury, these beasts can transmit the sooty mold (yup, POD’s got that, too) virus within 15 seconds — let’s repeat that: 15 SECONDS — of piercing the leaf with their nasty little slurping mouthparts.

And they’re fertile too, naturally, “…winged females colonize crops in early summer, and wingless females produce live young for about 15 days (70-80 offspring per female) resulting in multiple generations. The time from birth to reproductive adult can be one week.” Yup, we’re doomed.

Prevention is the best medicine, but needless to say, despite ample experience with the boogers, reflective mulching was not employed in this year’s slack-bottomed garden. One of the benefits to plants out front, though, is that daily hosing of the undersides of the leaves is (more or less) keeping things in check (more or less) for now. Long enough, the Hurricane hopes, to harvest a just a few more delicious cucumbers.

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