Melon aphids (Aphis gossypii) are a common pest of plants in the genus Hibiscus. These 6/100-inch-long, yellowish-green to green-black, pear-shaped insects feed directly on the nutrient-rich juices inside the leaves, as well as on succulent new growth. Melon aphids tend to feed in clusters, and in numbers they can cause extensive damage to plants, including leaf curling and distortion. They also can carry plant viruses. Getting rid of these black aphids is not easy work, but if you are persistent, your hibiscus can be aphid-free before the end of the season.
Spray hibiscus infested with non-winged populations of melon aphids with a blast of water from a garden hose to dislodge them. Because they are generally slow-moving, the removed aphids will most often die of starvation before they are able to reattach to the plant. Check your hibiscus at least once a week and wash away any aphids you see.
Apply rosemary oil or insecticidal soap to a hibiscus infested with many winged aphids, or to any plant whose aphid population is not reduced by water sprays. Coat the entire plant thoroughly, being sure to cover the undersides of leaves as well as the crotches of branches. Wait to apply either chemical until the outside temperature is below 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Repeat this application every 10 to 14 days, until aphids are no longer seen.
Treat the soil around a severely infested hibiscus with imidacloprid, mixed according to package instructions. Water the plant thoroughly to encourage uptake of this chemical. Allow 3 to 7 days for aphids to die from feeding on a hibiscus packed with imidacloprid.
Things You Will Need
- Garden hose
- Rosemary oil (optional)
- Insecticidal soap (optional)
- Imidacloprid (optional)
- If ants are troubling your hibiscus, they may be feeding on the excretions of the melon aphids and protecting these insects from harm. Control ants before you attempt to control aphids, to allow predatory insects a chance to destroy the now-unprotected aphid population.
- Do not apply imidacloprid to a plant that is in bloom or is about to bloom. This systemic pesticide is toxic to bees.
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