Changes in aphid presence following plant washings were evaluated on hibiscus plants, Hibiscus rosa-sinensis L., that supported natural aphid infestations—primarily melon aphid, Aphis gossypii Glover. Type of plant module (such as stems, tight buds, open flowers, and sepal caps) and percent of module’s surface covered by aphids were recorded for each branch tip on every plant. Plant washing was done with tap water, applied for 30 s three times a week for 3 wk. Aphid presence was recorded each week. Aphid presence on plant structures immediately before and after a single 30-s wash treatment was also examined. In the 3-wk study, mean percent coverage of plant parts with aphids was significantly affected by wash treatment, plant module type, and their interactions, as well as by time and the interaction of time with wash treatment. By the third week, unwashed plants had 33.1% of stems and branch tips scoring >5% coverage with aphids, and 17.9% of unwashed stems and branch tips had 20% or more of their surface area covered by aphids. Washing plants prevented aphid coverage from ever exceeding the 5% class on all module types. In the second experiment, buds and stems with high numbers of aphids before washing generally experienced notable declines with a single wash. When the prewash coverage was 10% or greater, reduction in coverage ranged from 50 to 100% of the prewash amount. In 64% of the cases, the reduction in coverage was 75% or more of the prewash amount. Plant washing can provide a viable means of management for small, soft-bodied arthropods such as aphids.
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Vol. 94 • No. 6