Coco vs. the Aphids

Friday, June 7th, 2002 | Garden

I’ve been working in my garden today, repotting cymbidiums. This happens about once every 10 years, and it’s exhausting work. The orchids have to be sawed out of the pots, and then hacked into clumps of 3 to 5 pseudobulbs prior to being repotted. I have about 8 big pots of them.

Meanwhile, the Battle of the Aphids 2002 has begun. The attack on my plum tree is in full swing. I tend to just blast the evil little beasts with water, but this has to be done every day, because they reproduce incredibly fast. The first few generations are all female, reproducing asexually. Toward the end of summer the tiny lesbians produce a crop of males to mate with, and then they lay their eggs for the next season. That’s when I get tough, spraying the dormant tree with an oil or parafin-based spray that coats the egg and kills the spawn of the incestuous union. I’ve tried ladybugs, which are supposed to eat them, but they all fly away, supposedly to a garden where there are even more aphids, but I can’t imagine such a place.

Last year they invaded my oncidium, along with a colony of ants. (The ants eat the secretions from the aphids–could you imagine?) Showing no mercy, I soaked the orchid in water until they all climbed onto the leaves, eggs in hand, and then I blasted them with an oil spray, until they were no more, or so I thought…. I set the plant out overnight, the leaves covered in dead ants, but when I woke up, the leaves were bare, and I saw the survivors marching off into the garden carrying the bodies of their dead comrades!

Supposedly the volume of ants on earth is equivalent to that of humanity. It’s only a matter of time…

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