We have insects on our plants. A natural thing to have happen, but kind of a bummer because we have to remove them while trying not to affect the microbial community with chemicals. The insects seem to be aphids, though I have no idea about species, I’m a pretty lousy excuse for an entomologist. Maybe I can get the Tulane entomology class to identify them for me:

Anyways, Bri and Rachel first noticed the aphids on one plant while I was at the ESA conference. By the time I got back, about a week later, they had spread to about 7 plants. And now there were ants hanging out with them, and I think the ants were milking the aphids. I’m going to try to get a picture of that, but in the meantime I jumped into action to save our plants from the killer aphids.

So I been spraying a homemade pesticide (1 tbsp of vegetable oil and 1 tbsp of dish detergent in a gallon of water) on our plants, every other night for the last week. I think its keeping the aphids from spreading, but I think they are also laughing at my perfume-free, dye-free, plant based detergent.

The literature doesn’t say much about pesticides and microbes, except that some pesticides may or may not affect some microbes in different ways. So before I take it up a notch to spraying pepper oil on them, I’m going to try and remove the aphids with q-tips and tissue. I never really thought I would hand remove tiny insects from a plant as part of my work, but I have to protect those microbes as best as I can! If anyone has any tips or criticisms on what I’m doing to get rid of these insects, I’d love to hear them. For now, its off to work I go!