The Wenatchee World

Weather:

Weather

The latest extended forecast from The Weather Channel

Remove this weather forecast

Today

Hi73° Isolated Showers

Tonight

Lo57° Breezy

Friday

Hi82° Sunny

Friday Night

Lo60° Mostly Clear

Saturday

Hi87° Sunny

Saturday Night

Lo65° Clear

Sunday

Hi95° Sunny

Sunday Night

Lo72° Mostly Clear

Monday

Hi96° Hot

Monday Night

Lo71° Clear

Orchardists learn of flower power

Send to Kindle
Print This

If you woke up this morning thinking about woolly apple aphids — and who didn’t? — then this newsy tidbit is for you.

Turns out those dastardly apple aphids, a bane of local orchardists, might be controlled by planting flowers along the tree rows. Not just any flower, mind you, but the sweet alyssum with its delicate blooms, tangy perfume and yummy nectar — which all add up to ambrosia for the spiders that eat those aphid bastards.

The problem, said bug expert Betsy Beers of the WSU Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center here in Wenatchee, is that the woolly apple creepy-crawly attacks tree shoots and roots. "These aphids also secrete a sticky liquid called honeydew, which can coat the apples, causing much annoyance during harvest,” she said.

It’s enough to make a grower dream of the good ol’ days when organophosphate insecticides sat on every workshed shelf. But, it turns out, the alyssum may be a fine organic replacement.

It works like this: Plantings of sweet alyssum attract spiders and predator bugs that love to munch on woolly apple aphids. The alyssum also attracts hoverflies, whose larvae also relish an aphid meal now and then, but researchers found that it was really the spiders that gulped down the vile varmints.

Beers and fellow aphid aces Lessandro Gontijo and William Snyder published an article about all this in the July edition of Biological Control, a journal you’re sure to find on the magazine racks next to People and GQ. If not, you can view their report at http://bit.ly/17Y8zOM.

All comments are moderated before appearing. For more information, please read the approval guidelines. Questions? See our Disqus commenting FAQ or our full commenting policy.

Comments Help

A few important points:

  • You must have a Disqus account to comment (your Wenatchee World login and Disqus login are completely separate)
  • You must provide your first and last name
  • Your comment must be civil

For more information see our Disqus commenting FAQ or our full commenting policy