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Gardens are not made by singing "Oh, how beautiful," and sitting in the shade. - Rudyard Kipling

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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Checking and fighting insect infestations

Checking and fighting insect infestations
Checking and fighting insect infestations

Just like any other living thing, plants do have their own diseases and insect infestations, which, can damage your plants drastically. In my case, I had a very devastating infestation of the white coloured mealybugs in my hibiscus plant, which eventually spread to my chrysanthemums and then the yellow cosmos plants.
Photograph Illustration showing white coloured mealybugs, apart from a ladybug. (Photo courtesy: Wikipedia)

The mealybugs are extremely hardy pests and are very hard to remove. Though, these look pretty harmless, but are exactly opposite, as they tend to suck the plant sap and hence hinder normal plant growth and result in leaf drop and deformation in leaves and flower buds. What exactly added to the mealybugs infesting my hibiscus and chrysanthemums was the fact that these plants are pretty dense with a lot of space underneath their leaves and the new twigs, which are very dense, and thus provide safe shelter to these pests. Initially, to me, the obvious method to get rid of these was to spray strong stream of water on the infected plants, and I tried that, only to discover that, the strong stream of water was not enough to remove all of those, and using too much water would have actually damaged my plants, much more than the bugs itself.

So, I visited the nearby nursery, and described the bug to the person, who handed me a packet of dry insecticide powder, meant to be mixed in water and sprayed directly, but to vain. So, I again set forth in hunt for a good insecticide and found a liquid one named Rogor. This was somewhat effective, but needed repeated and frequent spraying, which I didn't do for the fear of damaging my plants. Moreover, while the insecticide was quite effective, it's effects were limited to the area of it's contact, most obviously, on the top of the leaves, and even after my best tries, I couldn't spray it all over the plant, upper and lower parts of the leaves.

So, I set off, removing them manually, the cruel way - took a pin, and started picking each one out of the plant. Carried out this exercise for a few days, only to find out that they reproduced much faster than I was removing them. As a matter of fact, these can reproduce in about 30 days and each egg sac may contain as many as 600 eggs. (source: So, I again started looking for some alternative method to remove these, and on a forum, found out that people had suggested use of a mild formulation containing dishwash liquid (like Vim or Pril) and water. The idea behind this method was that the soapy formulation was able to wash off the waxy coating on these bugs, thus exposing them to the use of insecticides. After using the water-dishwash solution to wash off my plants, I washed them off with plain water and then sprayed the insecticide solution. It seemed to be working well for quite some time, but then again these creatures were back on my plants. These insects were everywhere, on my hibiscus plant, on the chrysanthemum plants, on my several marigold plants, and then spread to a tomatoes, calendula, dahlia, and a lot of other plants. Finally, I understood that I can't get rid of these completely, and since then, I've been using a used toothbrush or a paintbrush to dislodge these from my plants and then manually killing them.

Another of the plant insects include the Aphids or the greenfly. These, usually are feature of the winter season, and normally affect plants during the winters, (late December to early March), but, these too, can wreak havoc on your plants, because of the numbers, in which they attack your plants.
Aphids or Greenflies. (Photo Courtesy: Wikipedia)

These are also brutal insects, and can cause deformity and curled leaves and stems in your plants. Though, I've applied the same method to get rid of these, but these insects are there every winter on my plants, turning black from light green.


  1. I had the aphids on my Basil too, and I had to cut off the leaves that were infested and that worked. I think you can also try some natural insecticides, hopefully that works too.

    1. Thanks for visiting my blog and for the suggestion, Toboliba. Though, in my case, the aphid infestation is such that you can't do anything else, except using some insecticide. The photo, that is showing the green coloured aphids is just same as the one I experience, and thus can't cut off the whole new shoots.

  2. I hate aphids. What worked for me was a mix of dishwashing liquid and mouthwash (I am serious). I tend to add a bit of neem oil to the mix. That and hosing them off, but constant monitoring is required.


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