I must admit there aren’t many pests I hate more than wasps. Frankly they are the jerks of the animal kingdom. Unlike their peace loving, pollinating friends the honey bees, wasps seem to want to invade your personal space get up in your grill and instigate until you inevitably swat at them and “A-HA!” they now have just cause to sting you, which they often do and with vigor. So much of my garden pest control is dedicated to the swift abatement of wasps and ensuring that my garden is not a desired locale. One thing that I can tell you for certain is that the wasp has a love hate relationship with another despised garden pest, the aphid. Love hate you say? Let me explain.
Relationship one: Wasps (yellow jackets etc…) follow those sap sucking midgets around eating their leftovers. Aphids leave a sticky mess of “honeydew” on the outside of the leaves they siphon. Wasps in typical fashion are attracted to this sugary sweet mess and in turn start swarming the trees. In this relationship wasps + aphids = symbiotic relationship of Mutualism.
Relationship two: Parasitic Wasps – totally different ball game. These are bugs I can get behind. They DON’T sting people but instead this tiny parasitic wasp hones in on its prey (aphids) by detecting that same sweet honeydew secretion. Once there, it injects an egg into the aphid. When the egg hatches, the larvae begin to consume the pest from inside. In this relationship wasps + aphids = symbiotic relationship of Parasitism.
Biology lesson over. You just don’t want Yellow Jackets OR Aphids, and you’re not about to introduce a parasitic wasp to deal with the aphids, so what’s a gardener to do?
- Try spraying cold water on the leaves; sometimes all aphids need is a cool blast to dislodge them. Typically they are unable to find their way back to the same plant.
- Neem oil, insecticidal soaps, and horticultural oils are effective against aphids. Be sure to follow the application instructions.
- You can often get rid of aphids by wiping or spraying the leaves of the plant with a mild solution of water and a few drops of dish soap. This method will need to be reapplied every 2-3 days for at least 2 weeks.
- Diatomaceous earth (DE) is a non-toxic, organic material that will kill aphids. Do not apply DE when plants are in bloom; it is harmful to pollinators, too.
- If all else fails Ridgeview can provide approved chemical insecticides, ask in store for the appropriate option.