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Can anyone recognize these beetles/spiders on the below picture, which are all over my Sambuca plant?

Hires picture here.

I have just sprayed them with ECOstyle LuseFri insect soap mixed with Neem oil, in an act of panic, when I saw it.

Is that the correct thing to do about these bugs?

enter image description here

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They look to be aphids (plant lice).

Aphids typically come in light green or black, and these are obviously the black ones.

LuseFri (Swedish name?) Insect Soap should do the trick, as will a home made soapy garden spray or garlic spray. You can make the mixture a little more effective by mixing in a bit of methylated spirit. The green soap and spirit mix is what I use myself, but I do use it outside mainly, where I can spray in abundance.

Alternatively, try to get ladybugs. They are aphids natural enemies. They (and especially their larvae) can eat dozens of aphids a day. The advantage of ladybug larvae is they won't fly away, eat more lice and they look really cool if that's your thing. But for indoor plants, I think ladybugs are not a good option.

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  • LuseFree is quite expensive. Is it better than your soap mixture? Jun 6 '15 at 17:56
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    I don't know. I only know it from hear-say. The main ingredient is (if I translate it right), a potassium salt of fatty acids. This also has a soapy texture, so it probably works in a similar way. I don't know if and why their stuff would be better than soft green or brown soap, but it could be.
    – GolezTrol
    Jun 6 '15 at 21:09
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I agree that they are aphids and can be easily controlled with soap and water. I recommend three applications spaced five to seven days apart to catch any eggs that hatch. Dish soap mixed at five ml per liter of water is a good ratio.

You can try ladybugs but there is no guarantee they will stick around. If the aphids are not controlled by soap and water or even a brisk spray with a hose then consider cutting the branches they attacking off. The plant will grow back.

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I'm going to add my suggestion although I'll probably be down voted for it but here goes.

The trouble with getting rid of aphids is they come right back. All it takes is a few winged female aphids to land on your plant and in a few days, there may be a hundred or more and it only gets worse from there.

Aphid Pests explains:

The winged adults light on plants ready to give birth, which, mostly in greenhouses is done viviparously — in other words, they bear wingless living young, skipping the egg-laying stage entirely. This gives aphids a unique time-saving advantage. To further compound the speed in which aphids can multiply, the nymphal or immature stages are entirely female and then reproduce further parthenogenetically, which means they have no need to mate. Adding insult to the grower’s injury, the nymphal stages are born with the next brood within them already, a condition called paedogenesis. To aphids the combination of these abilities spell exponential growth potential...

When I find aphids on my plants, it's often the plants that are growing quickly with succulent tender new growth. Aphids aren't usually found on older and less 'juicy' stems and leaves. I'd immediately start squishing them on the plants and leave their dead bodies behind. Sometimes ants would be crawling among the aphids, tending them for the sweet honeydew aphids excrete. Yes, it's really aphid 'poop'.

Years ago, I read that the squished dead bodies of insect pests (e.g. aphids) give off some signal thought to be chemical that discourage other aphids from the plant. (I can't remember the source.) I really can't say if it's true but it seems to work for me. Where the small black ants were, I'd squish a few of those too as a warning for other ants and aphids. One shrub rose I had was particularly bothered by aphids with their ant herders. Squishing aphids and ants repel them for a couple of weeks unless it rained enough to wash the chemical scent off. I only needed to do this a few times in the growing season for it to be effective.

If you decide to try this low tech method, remember to squish them gently in order not to crush your plant's tissues too. The aphid bodies are very soft so it's easy to do.

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  • That seems fair to me. I do a lot of gardening, see aphids every seasons, but they are not a big deal as long as other species stay around to take care of them (so not using chemicals is the best way). I also do this crushing sometimes, without knowing it could discourage others to come right away.
    – J. Chomel
    Jun 30 '17 at 9:28
  • I wish I could find some references or studies done to the efficiency of squished aphids repelling other aphids from coming but although I searched through many Google pages using various search terms, I couldn't. The only anecdotal evidence I have is my experiences. Wish I had better proof.
    – Jude
    Jun 30 '17 at 17:39

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