There comes a time every summer when I threaten to punch an animal or insect in the teeth.  That time is now. 
 I noticed my habanero plant had a ton of ants and aphids on it. I thought the ants were eating the aphids and cheered them on as I have done in the past with insects such as  wasps  and  ladybugs . 
 Yesterday, the situation seemed out of control - enter google search ‘there are a ton of ants and aphids in my garden’ which eventually led to an article about how the ants have started an  illegal drug farm  on my pepper plant and are breeding the aphids for their delicious nectar. 
 Typical.

There comes a time every summer when I threaten to punch an animal or insect in the teeth.  That time is now.

I noticed my habanero plant had a ton of ants and aphids on it. I thought the ants were eating the aphids and cheered them on as I have done in the past with insects such as wasps and ladybugs.

Yesterday, the situation seemed out of control - enter google search ‘there are a ton of ants and aphids in my garden’ which eventually led to an article about how the ants have started an illegal drug farm on my pepper plant and are breeding the aphids for their delicious nectar.

Typical.

Aphids.  Bloody aphids are covering the first cayenne pepper of my indoor garden (which consists of three plants from the balcony). This afternoon’s discovery has put me in a rage.  No aphids all summer…not one spotted, but as soon as I bring some plants inside.  There they are.   
 I am too tired to fight this battle, so au revoir mes belles.  The two infested cayenne plants went out on the balcony to enjoy their last few rays of the summer sun.  Defeated once again.

Aphids.  Bloody aphids are covering the first cayenne pepper of my indoor garden (which consists of three plants from the balcony). This afternoon’s discovery has put me in a rage.  No aphids all summer…not one spotted, but as soon as I bring some plants inside.  There they are.  

I am too tired to fight this battle, so au revoir mes belles.  The two infested cayenne plants went out on the balcony to enjoy their last few rays of the summer sun.  Defeated once again.

I love wasps. That's right. I do.

Lately the garden is berzerker and I have the wasps to thank for that.  

My gratitude is two fold.  

First off, wasps apparently eat aphids.  They aren’t as cute as ladybugs, but they’ll do.  They’ve been using the balcony as their feeding grounds for the past couple weeks and I have not suffered even one sting…or even a threat of a sting (which I assume would be some sort of hissing paired with a dirty look).  Maybe they’re preoccupied or maybe they see me as the wasp queen who provides them with lavish meals…I guess we’ll never know, but either way, it’s working out for the both of us.

Secondly, wasps are stellar pollinators.  Every single pepper plant is loaded with peppers, the tomato plant has tiny little tomatoes popping up, and the tomatillo plant has two decent sized tomatillos growing! 

I never thought I’d be so happy to have a wasp infested balcony.

How many ladybugs does it take to eat all the aphids on my balcony?

The answer is more than 1000.  

I released the ladybugs into my containers over the span of a couple weeks.  They set up camp, ate, fell in love, had babies…it was all very kumbayah.  After a week or so, I noticed that the aphids were back.  Not on all of the plants, just the broccoli, banana peppers, and tomato. No matter where I put the ladybugs,  they seem to find their way to the same plants - habaneros, jalapenos, and eggplant.  So much for diversifying.  

After watching the aphids feast on every single banana pepper flower bud, Kory (my hero) found a vegetable safe insect spray made of soap and soy.  This one slaughtered.  I spent the past couple days, checking and spraying every leaf and the balcony is now nearly aphid free.  There are so many positives to this spray…it kills aphids, is ladybug safe, and smells nice…although I’m pretty sure I shouldn’t be smelling insecticide.

Summon Polka Dot army!

This is the my last resort.  We’ve tried home made remedies, store bought all natural remedies, and straight up scraping them off. If this fails, the aphids will have officially ruined my life.

Finding ladybugs was not the easiest thing, but thankfully Sage Garden Herbs had a few left.  My wonderful parents, not bound to the regular work day, made the trek down there to pick me up a bag before their 6pm close.  Enter my last line of defense, my darling dolled up ladies.  Natures defense to the bane of my existence. 

Following the instructions, we waited until evening, watered the plants, then released them to the feast.  I hope I have a bunch of stuffed  ladybugs by morning.

The Aphid War - Debrief

We won the war, but took some damage.  The solution that destroyed the aphids also took a toll on the plants.  They are bruised and battered, but will survive.

After talking with some green thumbs, their suggestion is to remove the oil from the armory.  Oil will destroy your plants…fact (blast you eHow…you own me some peppers).   Apparently, using a soap and water solution should do the trick, although it might take a couple applications. 

My hate for aphids still burns, even in their absence.

Those aren't sesame seeds...

Aphids!  Flipping APHIDS!!!  They’ve set up camp on my habanero plants and I hate them.

According to eHow, a combination of lady bugs and a vegetable oil, dish soap, and water mixture should do the trick.  

Now, I shall go to war and I have a feeling that I will slaughter.  Farewell aphid family, I hope I never see you again.