Aphids on kale are the last problem farmers want to deal with. These tiny bugs puncture through kale leaves, causing small holes in them and turning the leaves yellow.
They are attracted by the plant’s soft tissues, which are easy to feed on, the nitrogen content in the vegetable, and they can also come from the weeds in the garden, so read on to see more causes and remedies.
- Why Do Aphids Attack Kale?
- How To Free Aphids From Kale?
Why Do Aphids Attack Kale?
Aphids attack kale because of the soft leaves, existing weeds in the garden, and high nitrogen levels present around the leaves. In addition, you should also be mindful of the absence of natural predators, and the climate being the best for the aphid population.
– Kale Soft Leaves
Many reasons can cause cabbage aphids. First, the leaves are soft, making them easy to puncture by the insect’s mouth. Aphids multiply quickly with a constant supply of food and plant sap, and when they find the right nutrients, they will start to develop their growth and lay eggs too.
You should know that kales are primarily grown for their soft leaves, which is a number one attractive feature to aphids. Aphids have soft mouths that cannot pierce through coarse foliage or hardwood stems, so they parade on plants with soft leaves.
While they are hard-to-notice insects, the first signs of aphids on your kale are tiny white bugs on kale. As the aphid population grows, you can notice small holes in the leaves or a sticky substance on the stem, and this way they will infest and weaken the crops as well.
The tiny insects are harmless initially, but a high infestation can cause kale pests and diseases. This is because they transmit viruses from various plants, and they could infect vegetables.
This leaves most farmers wondering, are aphids on broccoli safe to eat? Although the aphids are safe to eat, the infected leaves could cause human health problems.
– Weeds in the Garden
The other reason for aphid infestation in vegetable gardens is if the environment is conducive to their stay. And if you don’t practice weed control often, you will suffer aphid infestation in your kale garden.
The factor to take into consideration is that if you let weeds grow in your kale garden, they could cause aphid infestation. However, be mindful that some weeds have soft leaves and a sweet sap insects prefer.
With time, the insects will migrate to your vegetables, leaving you with tiny and yellow-leafed kales. Some aphid-attractive weeds are sow thistle and mustard where they will grow and infest on a greater scale.
Besides being a home for aphids, weeds also weaken essential plants. They compete for water and nutrients with the vegetables, leaving the kales weak and easily attacked by diseases, when the infestation grows even more and comes from other sources.
Insects are also attracted to weak plants, and aphids are not exemptional. These plants have less vigor and are easy to feed on, making them easy to feed by the bugs. Weakness in kales can also be caused by drought and overwatering or unconducive climate.
– High Nitrogen Levels
Aphids will also likely invade your kale garden because of the high nitrogen levels. This is because vegetables require high nitrogen levels to grow more giant leaves, increasing production. Also, weak and unhealthy kale will attract aphids and other destructive insects to your garden.
So this is why you must consider how the high nitrogen levels are essential for growing kale and other leafy vegetables. Nitrogen is a component of chlorophyll, a green pigment that enables the plant to capture sunlight for photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is plants’ food manufacturing process that produces energy for plant growth.
When there is a proper amount of nitrogen supports the vegetable leaves’ rapid growth, meaning the aphids will have available food. The presence of the food keeps the insects in the vegetable garden and supports their reproduction, and they will grow faster.
Besides, high nitrogen levels also support the growth of other plants. New plant leaves, stems, and roots are soft and easy to pierce through by aphids. When there is high nitrogen levels in the soil, it stimulates succulent plant growth, which prompts some aphids to reproduce at a faster rate.
– Absence of Natural Predators
One of the best ways to prevent aphid infestation in your kale farm is by using predators. These could be other insects like ladybirds, rove beetles, and hoverfly larvae that feed on the pests to control their population.
Without these predators, aphids will crawl or fly from one plant to the kales and cause destruction. They wouldn’t be hindered by any predator that will go and attack them, so this way, they grow thoroughly.
– Conducive Climate for Aphid Population
Kales are cool-weather vegetables, and most aphid species prefer living in similar environments. Therefore, the tiny destructive insects will feed on plants available in their habitats, including kales.
How To Free Aphids From Kale?
To free aphids from kale, you should water them with hose, and handpick them. You may also use insecticidal soaps, use neem oil, and spray some tomato leaf spray. In addition, use essential oils, and pesticides, grows aphid-repelling plants, locate the plant indoors, and introduce aphid-killing pests.
– Water Spray Aphids Using a Hose
If you are looking for a natural method to eliminate cabbage aphids on broccoli and kale plants, using a garden hose to spray water on the insects would be suitable. Spray the insects using high pressure to remove them from the leaves.
Aphids are weak insects, and the high-water pressure will sweep them away. Besides, the water also drowns the insects, killing them as you sprash water on them.
However, this pest control method is suitable for a low aphid population. Farmers should also be careful not to break the leaves and branches with a strong water pressure and wait until the ground dries until the next wash. Too much water could cause overwatering problems.
– Handpick Them
Whether your kale garden is infested with the Myzus persicae, aphis gossypii, or the macrosiphum euphorbiae types of aphids, there are biological and chemical control methods. Kale caterpillars and aphids can be killed by pressing them between your fingers or spraying them with water.
On the other hand, be detailed about how this tactic is particularly suitable if the population is low. This method is ideal at the onset of the pest infestation because the population is low. Some farmers prefer using paper tissue to crush the insects.
While killing aphids by crushing them is an effective pest control method, it could adversely affect the leaves. If you kill the insects between the leaves, you will cause injuries which can lead to worse infections.
– Spray With Insecticidal Soap
If aphid infestation on your kales is high, consider using insecticidal soap. You can spray it on the vegetable leaves utilizing a hose pipe or a sprayer, this is because the insecticidal soap kills the aphids through suffocation.
When the soap comes into contact with the insect’s skin, it covers the cellular membrane blocking its pores. The soap also damages the protective waxing on the insect’s body, resulting in dehydration and death. This soap can also be made at home by mixing vegetable oil with dish soap.
– Use Neem Oil
Another excellent method of getting rid of aphids is using neem oil. The oil is naturally extracted from the neem tree and could be mixed with other horticultural oils. However, this is a natural method of aphid control.
Cabbage aphids neem oil kills insects by smothering them. The oil covers the insect’s outer coat, closing its breathing pores and leading to suffocation. You can also use the oil to kill other destructive insects and garden mites.
The benefit of using this oil to eliminate aphids is its antifungal properties. Therefore, if your kales suffer from a fungal disease like powdery dew, the oil can stop it as it kills destructive pests.
– Use Tomato Leaf Spray
Make a tomato leaf spray if you still need to get ready to use chemicals to eradicate aphids in your kale garden. You can easily make this by chopping and soaking tomato leaves in water for a day.
You should then put the water in a spray bottle and use it on your vegetable leaves. The juice contains toxic alkaloids, which are poisonous to aphids. Alternatively, you can grow tomatoes next to your kale because they naturally repel insects.
– Essential Oils
Besides neem oil, other essential oils like peppermint and rosemary oil can eliminate aphids. The oils also prevent insect infestation on early kale. However, the method works best in the morning or the evening and should be applied repeatedly until all the aphids die, and make sure that they are properly diluted so that it doesn’t harm the leaves.
– Use Pesticides
If you are dealing with a heavy aphid infestation in your garden, pesticides could be the best way to eliminate them. Spraying chemical pesticides is effective because it kills insects fast.
However, some aphid varieties resist pesticides, so you must choose the best chemical. Also, chemically manufactured insecticides can cause harm to children, and you should not feed on the kale immediately after spraying them.
These chemicals also cause environmental pollution. When it rains, the chemicals are swept by rainwater to the rivers, leading to the decay of the growth and the proper health of the plant. Others attract other garden pests, which could destroy the vegetables.
– Grow Aphids-Repelling Plants
You can prevent environmental pollution by growing kales with other aphid-resistant plants. The best options are garlic, basil, and marigolds. However, you must also ensure that the plants are good kale companions. It is advisable to refrain from cultivating eggplants, lettuce, and potatoes in your kale garden as these colossal leaves serve as a highly effective hiding place for aphids.
– Grow Kales Indoors
If aphids have become uncontrollable, consider growing the kales indoors. This can be done in a well-lit room with enough temperatures to support kale growth. After germination, plant the seeds in a pot and transfer them to a larger area.
You must remember to water your kale and provide the proper nutrients for survival. Also, keep checking for insect infestation to deal with them before their population grows.
– Introduce Aphid Killers to Your Garden
Since there are aphid predators, why don’t you use them to prevent insect infestation in your garden? You can get an army of ladybugs that feed on many aphids daily, reducing their population.
However, ensure there is pollen in the garden that the ladybugs can survive on. You can also get plants that attract ladybugs, like carrots], chives, or marigolds. These are also aphid repellers and will protect your garden from destructive insects.
They could be attracted by weeds in the garden, weak kale, and vegetable nitrogen levels and from this article, you will note that;
- Kales attract aphids because of their soft leaves, which are easy to pierce through the insect’s mouth.
- Getting rid of aphids on kale can be challenging for most farmers because the insects attack in large numbers.
- Aphid-attractive weeds and plants growing in the kale garden can also attract insects and destroy your vegetables.
- You can use biological methods to control aphids, like introducing ladybugs, or chemical methods, like applying insecticides.
- If you have tried all the methods of aphid elimination and failed, consider growing your kales indoors but provide an excellent growing condition for development.
Now that you know what can attract aphids to your kale garden and how to prevent the infestation, get ready to grow healthy kales.
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