|You may even notice ants ‘farming’ the plants to move aphids to a better feeding place. Mealybugs make a cottony, sticky nest while spittlebugs build a wet mass to protect themselves from you and other predators. If leaf surfaces look stippled, like they have been poked with a needle, or if squiggly lines criss cross them like a road map, this same group of insects is to blame. Sometimes you simply notice that a plant doesn’t look right – a bit pale or quick to wilt compared to a few days ago. When you look more closely, either the insects or their pattern of evil shows up. Remember, a large part of the organic philosophy is to prevent pests when possible (using Tea sprays for example) and to get after them as soon as possible when it is necessary. That means effective control with the least environmentally intrusive means possible, like this: Begin by physically breaking up their homes, followed with a strong spray of water to knock off some of the pests and further disrupt them. After that, use a spray or dust of pyrethrin or insecticidal soap, making sure to cover both tops and bottoms of the leaves and stems. Because these insects multiply about weekly, you will need to spray several times. You can also make your own solution of red pepper, garlic, rosemary, lemongrass, and liquid soap for these weekly sprays. The idea when blending these home remedies is to create a suspension that is thick enough to stick to the plants but thin enough to go out through your sprayer. Practice in blending and adjusting the sprayer nozzle will be rewarded with a spray you can use consistently to control these small-mouthed, piercing and sucking insects. And what I call ‘hot and smelly spray’ works to keep pesky cats from digging in your flowerpots when you spray the soil surface weekly – if you can stand the garlic!