Monday, 23 June 2008

Aphid Attack

Here's a gruesome picture to finish the day with, I hope it doesn't give anyone nightmares.

What with one thing and another I've not been keeping as close a watch on the orchard as I perhaps should have, but lucky for me 'Eagle-eye Ray' of the Hucknall Cider Co had a stroll around the trees this weekend and spotted some nasty goings on.

Common green Aphids had infested most of the cider apple trees, sucking greedily at the soft new growth, and making a curly mess of the new leaves. I've spent an hour blasting the critters off with a spray bottle of water, and squishing the more tenacious blighters between finger and thumb. This is a relatively easy method of control for a small garden orchard like ours, but I was hoping the huge quantities of Harlequin Ladybirds throughout the garden would render even this task unnecessary. I think I need to make the orchard more attractive to lacewing, Earwigs etc. The Harlequins appear to have out-competed the native ladybirds in this garden, but sadly don't seem too keen to move into the orchard and do what all decent ladybirds are supposed to do.

Of more concern was one tree with a bad infestation of the dreaded Rosy Apple Aphid (pictured above). This is potentially more damaging than other Aphids because not only does it lead to serious curling of the leaves, but can also result in small, misshapen fruit and premature leaf loss if left uncontrolled. This called for a targeted spray from a soapy insecticide, a drastic measure in an otherwise organic system, but this will hopefully nip this problem in the bud so to speak.

To finish on a happier note, here's a picture of a cider apple fruitlet, which even at this early stage has developed a very attractive deep red colouring. Here's hoping that the aphids leave this particular rosy apple well alone.


Ray said...

And which apple is that of the many thousands you have this year, Mark? ;-)

Karen & Mark said...

That'll be a fledgling Harry Masters' Jersey, pert and blushing in its bed of leaves. The only apples we're likely to have thousands of this year is the humble Bramley!