Stopping unstoppable aphids

May 12, 2019

I'm growing tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplants, peppers, and assorted herbs on an urban balcony in Boston. The last two years, aphids murdered most of my peppers and eggplants, and I'm preparing myself for another siege this season.

I've tried insecticidal soap, pyrethrin spray, and a mix of the two. On a 7-day application interval the herd would initially thin out but by day 7 we were back where we started. Daily applications of soap helped a little but not enough to allow the plants to grow much.

Because I'm hundreds of feet above the ground, I don't get much in the way of beneficial insects. Considered buying ladybugs, but not sure if my neighbors two feet away on either side would appreciate hundreds of them flying around. I keep reading things saying that cilantro repels aphids, well, last year they hit my cilantro so bad I pulled it out and tossed it.

I've read about Bayer Advanced (i.e. Imidacloprid) but am a little hesitant to use it out of concern for the couple of bees that somehow find my plants two hundred feet up in the middle of the city. I haven't tried malathion yet as it's a bit nasty and I've read conflicting reports on its effectiveness on aphids, but I'm not entirely opposed. Somebody elsewhere recommended flupyradifurone and bifenthrin, but I'm only finding those in "professional" quantities. My garden store also carries Bonide 8 (lambda cyhalothrin) which I haven't tried yet and some reviews say it worked.

Any suggestions greatly appreciated!

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