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little black bugs smothering many of my plants

Hi,  I seem to have these little black bugs smothering nearly everything! some people say wipe them off or blast them with the hose but I think that'd wreck the plants... they're on delicate flowers (jasmine, bishops flower, some small cosmos etc.

I don't like the idea of using pesticides or washing up liquid... are there any other options? plus what are they and why are they hounding my garden? I also took on an allotment this year and inherited an artichoke plant but the artichokes on it are being choked by these black buggies too!

Im a new gardener & am dismayed that my plants are like this!! 


Please help/ advise!



  • waterbuttswaterbutts Posts: 1,214

    welcome to the world of aphids! Blackfly is probably what you have. they also come in green, pink or sometimes grey, depending on what type they are and what colour sap they are sucking up.

    there are two approaches to gardening. there's the cut and burn theory where you think human beings are supreme and a garden should represent control of nature by the human race. In this case you go to the garden centre and pay Bayer or ICI for some nasty chemicals that will zap your garden into clean, organised lines. The other approach is to see yourself and your garden as a cog in the great wheel of nature and accept that every living thing has a part to play in things, even if that part may not be obvious to you. in that case you will leave the blackfly alone and notice that, if the plants are healthy, the birds, wasps and other creature eat the blackfly and, as quickly as they appeared, they suddenly disappear. If you are having a bit of a bad day ( just got a letterr from the bank etc) you might allow yorself to squish a few of them between your fingers while thinking dark thoughts about the bank manager. 

    You can decide what to do, depending on your personality.






  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener Posts: 11,391

    In previous years I have used bug spray to stop sawfly devastating my Soloman's seal.  However, this year I decided to just pick them all off by hand but last night I noticed a tiny wasp laying eggs into each and every sawfly larvae so decided I quite like the idea of lots more of these predators being around in the future and let them be.  The Soloman's seal will still be eaten to shreds this year, but next year there may be a lot more of these predator wasps which may help keep sawfly numbers down.  The bug spray would have killed the wasp too of course.  It's just a different (and better, in my opinion) way of looking at things.

    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • Well said, Bob the gardener image


  • joulesjoules Posts: 12

    My beautiful dahlias also have blackfly, so far they don't seem to have caused any problems, I am inclined to leave them alone, let nature do her thing

  • addictaddict Posts: 659

    You can always assist nature in doing her job. Find spiders, ladybirds and larvae and transfer to blackfly infested plants. The other thing you might like to check on is whether any ants are on the plants too. They "farm" the blackfly as in they protect them from predators in exchange for the aphid honey dew. If there are ants try scattering cinnamon at the base of the plants image

  • My runner beans and broad beans are infested with black fly, squashing them has reduced the flowers, blasting them with water has probably knocked them onto other plants.  Blasting the woolly aphid on the apple tree doesn't seem to work either or they are wearing strong waterproofs! Although I have bees, the other predators don't seem to be around.  I have thought of spraying them but don't want to eat chemicals and after seeing the programme the other night about how coffee is decafinated, am seriously thinking about going back to drinking normal coffee.

  • addictaddict Posts: 659

    I drink decaff cof image what do they do to it?! 

    The predators will ever-hopeful lol


  • Busy-LizzieBusy-Lizzie Posts: 22,584

    I don't do much spraying, but liquid soap is better than washing up liquid which is a detergent.

    Dordogne and Norfolk. Clay in Dordogne, sandy in Norfolk.
  • Gardener EveGardener Eve Posts: 118

    Hi! Thanks everyone - I've loved all the responses.I definately want to keep things as natural & organic as possible, I was just shocked at how many of these nasty little things there are!

    I will try to be patient and hopefully the natural predators will take control, although I havent seen any lady bugs yet : (

    You can't buy them can you?

    I also like waterbutts idea of squishing them to relieve stress!

    It's interesting that addict mentioned the ants because many of these plants that are heavily covered do have ants scurrying up and down them & I didn't think anything of it. I'll try the cinnamon idea today as that can't do any harm to the soil...(can it?!)

    Thanks again!



  • AnkieAnkie Posts: 7

    Hi there.  I am just a 'beginner' gardener and novice poster too. 

    I noticed loads of these little pests were clinging to my hanging basket flowers and so I ordered some ladybirds, I haven't received them yet, but I really can't wait for them to arrive.  I am like a 5 year old waiting for Christmas at the moment.

    I ordered them from, I checked out a few websites after googling and this one seemed among the cheapest and with the most info.  I opted for the ladybird family as you get ladybirds and larvae, my biggest concern is that the ladybirds will just up and fly away once I introduce them to my baskets, the larvae at least will have to hang around a while and hopefully munch up a few critters in the meantime.

    Hope that helps


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