Monday, December 2, 2013

Attack of the Aphids by Louise Hearn

September 18, 2013-At Long Last!-A Lupine Bloom! Yea!!
I have a small stand of lupine. Five little plants total. The first season they started out beautiful, and then the chipmunks ran up the stalks until they bent, and proceeded to eat all the flower buds, seed heads, whatever was available at the time, smashing the remainder of the plant in the process. The second season they started out beautiful, but voles ate most of the roots before I realized what was going on and they never fully recovered. This season, I dug up what I could salvage, planted them and two replacements in wire baskets and smothered them in vole repellent. Under my watchful eye, they are now about 8 to 10 inches high, with hopeful little flower spikes peaking up from their centers. (Yes! I realize it’s September!)
Friday morning I gave them a little water and they looked great. Monday afternoon something was terribly wrong. They looked wilted and had an almost white appearance. Upon closer inspection, I discovered they were completely covered in aphids! And the base of the plants were so infested that it looked like cottonwood flying in late August! The aphids were so large, I didn’t even need my glasses to see them!! Where does this many aphids come from in two days?!?! I knew I should have taken a picture, as I have never seen anything like it! But my adrenaline kicked-in instead … Hose in hand, I violently jetted them off the struggling Lupine; but when the force of the jet hit the infested base of the plant, it scattered the aphids everywhere!

Determined to win this battle, I got down on all fours to take a closer look. Their fat little neon bodies were alive and well and practically glowing green against the dark brown of the wet mulch. To date, I’m still not sure what came over me, but I then preceded to single-handed-lay smash every single one I could find; rolling and smashing the mulch around in my gloved hands to ensure there were no survivors! I am embarrassed to admit I was actually finding pleasure in this!

Noticing a shadow, I look up to see my husband standing over me; both palms facing upwards, that incredulous look on his face. “Smashing aphids” I offered. “Maybe you should get a job,” he suggested. I guess it wouldn’t have looked so bad if earlier in the day he hadn’t caught me swatting yellow-jackets off the hummingbird feeders with the fly swatter.

In closing, I would just like to ask if anyone has the name of a good therapist in Clear Creek County … Or, maybe I will look for employment; but I can’t work in the summer! There’s too much gardening to do!! 

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