Blackflies are insects measuring about 1/16 inch. They are dark in color, usually grayish-brown or black. If your African Violet has been infested with Blackflies, you will see them swarming around the plant. In most cases, Blackflies cause very little damage. Generally speaking, they are more of a nuisance than a danger. However, since Blackfly larvae will feed on the roots of African Violets, heavy infestations may eventually take their toll.
To treat for Blackflies, use a household insect spray containing Acephate. Start by gently tapping the leaves of your Violet. As the flies swarm up, you can direct the spray away from your Violet. Next, gently spray a light mist over your Violets and into the soil in order to get any flies that remain. This will also get the young larvae. Apply as directed on the label and be careful not to spray too much. Too much Acephate may cause damage to the leaves. (Note: Many household insect sprays, which contain Acephate, also contain a specific additive that may damage the foliage of African Violets. Therefore, if available, use a soluble powder, and mix your own spray.)
As an alternative to traditional chemical treatments, you want want to try trapping the insects. This can be done by taking a narrow strip of wood, painting it with a bright color and coating it with something sticky. Your wood should be about 12 to 18 inches long and 1 to 3 inches wide. Paint it orange or deep yellow, then apply a generous coating of honey or molasses. According to those who use this method, the bright color attracts the insects. Once they land on the strip, the honey or molasses holds them there. To be effective, the strip must be placed among your Violets so that it is in close proximity to wherever the insects are flying.
Keep the soil around your African Violet clean of flower and leaf debris. This is where Blackflies typically find shelter.
Important Note on the Use of Pesticides
Please note that almost all pesticides are formulated for specific uses and conditions. When applied incorrectly, pesticides can cause ill health or damage to plants. Therefore, when using any kind of pesticide or chemical treatment, always apply as indicated on the product label.
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