Gardening: Use insecticide on aphids

Tomato crops

This year, I have gotten a few reports of the aphids on hackberry trees. They are the small, white insects that float around in the air. Worse, they create the sticky honeydew on which sooty mold grows. So any plant, car, patio furniture, etc. under these trees winds up a black, sticky mess.


We now have more options for control of them. The one we’ve had for years is the systemic insecticide imidacloprid, which is applied on the root system of the tree. Sold as Bayer Advanced Tree and Shrub Insect control, imidacloprid has to be applied six to eight weeks before aphid emergence. A good time to apply this is about the Fourth of July. Imidacloprid is also sold as Merit and will provide three to four months’ control, so one application should be adequate.

Another option is an insecticide that will provide a quick knockdown as well as systemic action to these pests once you first see them. The insecticide is dinotefuran and is sold as Safari. The only two places I know of that sell it in the Augusta area are John Deere Landscapes and Nurseries Caroliniana. John Deere Landscapes’ product is packaged more for commercial operators, while Nurseries Caroliniana’s is for homeowners.

Even though dinotefuran costs more than imidacloprid, it allows you to wait and see if the aphids are going to be bad before you use it, because some years, such as last year, the aphid problem on the hackberries did not warrant treatment.

You can still use dinotefuran this year even if your tree is already infested with aphids.


Tomato crops

How did your tomatoes do this year? Mine are still producing, but they have really slowed down. For a while, I had to throw away more than half because tomato fruitworms were eating holes in them. I also had hornworms eating the foliage. I have dusted twice with Sevin.

When we get too much rain, diseases flourish. The plants always get some early blight and septoria leaf spot, but septoria leaf spot really went wild this summer with all the rain. This destructive disease causes severe leaf spotting and defoliation. It is the No. 1 cause of us having to pull up the plants long before frost.

Also make notes on the varieties you grew, how they turned out, and if you liked them. How was your fertility program? Did you have white, hard spots on the tomatoes? Were they small or did they fall off in the bloom stage? All of these problems can be a result of your fertility program. Remember that a soil test is one of the most important parts of tomato growing. Take a soil sample in October or November.

Did you have one of the most common tomato problems, blossom end rot? If you did, the calcium level of the soil test is critical.

Near the end of the tomato growing season, pick off all the tomato blossoms that won’t have time to bear fruit. That way, the plants’ nutrients will go into the existing tomatoes.

Before you put up your tomato cages, spray them with a 15 percent bleach solution that will prevent them carrying over this year’s disease to next year.