Greenfly, a menace to all, and particularly to chilli growers. Greenfly not only spread disease and drain a plant of its energy they often damage the fruit too. But how do you find them in the early days before they take hold and decimate your plants? Here are 6 tips for early detection.
1/ Look in the new shoots. Although they are commonly found on the underside of leaves, early in the year before the sun gets hot, they get into the tender new shoots where they damage flowers and leaf growth while the are still forming, so look there first.
2/ Use a magnifying glass or zoom in with your phone camera. It is so much easier to find and kill two or 3 today than 300 a week from now. In the picture below you can clearly see two fatties tucked into the new leaves plus a couple of smaller ones. The scars from their bite marks will cause the leaves to be contorted.
3/ When the sun gets hotter they seem to take shelter. This is when you start to find them lower down the plant among the shady lower leaves. Look for the white shed skins, they are often the most obvious sign of a greenfly infestation.
4/ Look for twisted shoots as they emerge, this almost always a sign of greenfly, not some other disease. The greenfly that caused the problem may have long since been eaten by predators, but it is best to give the tip a spray with an organic insecticide to be on the safe side.
5/ Look inside newly forming flowers, if the greenfly get hold before you stop them they will scar the flower tissue and this results in bent and badly formed fruit, more on that here. As soon as the bud starts to open they will get inside. A quick spray with a soapy organic insecticide should do the job, or there are lots in there you should nip the flower off and scrap it. There is no point in allowing the plant to put its energy into growing a malformed fruit, there will be plenty of other flowers.
6/ Look for white shed skins in spider webs or on the soil around the plant. This is the tell tale sign that greenfly are lurking on the leaves above. The shed skins are often mistakenly diagnosed as white-fly when they are just empty skins shed as the greenfly fatten ready to give birth to the next generation.