Little Green insects on leafs and flowers of plants

(Question)

I was wondering if there is something I can do about these little green insects that are in my plants I have on my balcony. I have hibiscus, pansies and other plants. They are in soil and they get the morning sun. The insects leave their waste on the leaves and they even start eating the leafs and flowers and within a month they have killed my plants. They have done this every year and I don’t know what to put as an insecticide to kill them. If you have any idea of what I can do it would be great! Thank you

(Answer)

It is most likely that your plants have been infested with aphids. These small insects come in many colours and attack a very wide variety of plants. Reproduction and consequently,  infestation, takes place rapidly. Aphids suck plant sap which causes distorted leaves, buds and flowers and excrete a sticky substance called honeydew, allowing a sooty mold to grow. This mold is unsightly and blocks light from the leaves. Normally, aphids cause damage but do not kill a plant.

Our Ask a Master Gardener Q and A posting of July 27, 2012 “Aphids on Cilantro” goes into detail about controlling these insects with early detection and such approaches as spraying soapy water or insecticidal soap and using companion plants such as sage or thyme. You don’t mention if you fertilize your plants but be aware that aphids like high levels of nitrogen so only use fertilizers with a moderate nitrogen concentration. However, it sounds as if your plants are repeatedly affected and in this case, the solution may lie in changing the types of plants in addition to following the advice from our website.

I am attaching a link to a website that also provides an additional perspective on the control of aphids: https://ipm.ucanr.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn7404.html