Collard greens are a member of the cabbage family. Unlike other cabbage family relatives, such as kale, collards can handle a bit of heat, making them a preferred crop for gardeners in warmer areas. The same pests that like cabbage and kale will also flock to collards if given the chance. Choosing to use homemade pest control means fewer bugs and fewer toxic chemicals in the garden.

Pests on Collard Greens

A few bugs enjoy eating their way through the leaves of collards. The National Gardening Association notes that collard greens seem to be less susceptible to pests than other members of the cabbage family. But an invasion of insects can decimate the crop. Pests include aphids, cabbage worms and the harlequin bug. Aphids are usually small, brown bugs that gather on the underside of the plant’s leaves. There are three types of cabbage worms. All are green, small and like to eat the plant’s leaves. The harlequin bug is a shiny insect with black and red markings on its shell. The harlequin drains sap from the leaves, causing them to wilt.

Soap Sprays

A homemade soap spray can kill soft-bodied insects, such as aphids, cabbage worms and the nymph forms of the harlequin bug. Make the soap by combining 2 tablespoons of liquid soap, such as nondetergent dish soap, with a gallon of water. Pour into a spray bottle. Although homemade and more mild than synthetic insecticides, you still need to be careful when using a soap spray. Keep the spray out of the reach of young children. Spray it on a small area of the collard greens first to see if the spray causes significant damage to the leaves.

Spicy Sprays

Spicy foods such as onion, garlic and hot pepper are fatally irritating to pests on collards. Make a garlic or hot pepper spray by steeping a few cloves of garlic or a teaspoon of cayenne pepper in a quart of water for about an hour. You can also add a chopped, raw onion to the water. Strain the mixture and pour into a spray bottle. If you want, you can add a tablespoon of nondetergent soap to the mix. Test the spray on a part of the plant first, before you go after the bugs. Keep the spray out of the reach of children and don’t get it in your eyes.

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