To be prepared for war is one of the most effective means of preserving peace.
- George Washington
I normally consider myself to be a peaceful person.
But when aphids attacked my cherished ten-year-old jade tree and favorite houseplant of all time, I declared war.
At first sight of the clumps of greyish-white bumps smothering each and every baby leaf on this precious plant, I was consumed with rage.
I might have screamed.
I surely cursed them.
Then I whisked my plant out to the patio for a direct assault with the garden hose.
Despite the prolonged scrub-down and careful spray session, I knew that this was merely the opening battle against the sap-sucking pests.
A quick Google session confirmed my hunch that this tender succulent is too fragile for any kind of sprays or pesticides.
So my next offensive maneuver was to attack with the most merciless weapons left to me in the anti-aphid aresenal: Q-tips and a pair of scissors.
Night after night, for the next week, my fourth-born and I pored over the poor infected plant.
Working as a tag team, my daughter brought her fiercely meticulous inspection skills to bear on the crisis. Slowly and methodically, she scrutinized each and every leaf for the enemy.
I stood by, Q-tip in hand, and coldly rubbed out each evil aphid that she sighted. We found the little warriors hiding under the leaves, crammed into tiny spaces between the stems and leaves, even scrambling around in the potted soil.
In some parts of the plant, our adversaries had clearly gained superior numbers, and we had no option but to cut away the infected stems and leaves. One snip led to the next, and soon we had cut away a good quarter of the foliage.
But as the week wore on, we never gave up.
With each search-and-destroy mission, we found fewer combatants. I dared to hope that my plant might live. New buds appeared as my feisty succulent fought for survival. The tide was surely turning.
And just as our perseverance seemed likely to pay off, I made a major tactical discovery.
There is such a thing as an aphid trap.
Essentially, this weapon of mass destruction consists of a simple yellow card coated with sticky stuff and a scent that is irresistible to aphids. When the card is innocently placed near an aphid-ridden battlefield, the little monsters will march over to the card and become hopelessly trapped in the goo.
I bought a package of four. I have no mercy.
So far, the combined efforts of my one-two punch seem to be successful. But I refuse to be lulled into complacency. My foes could rise up again at any moment and sweep havoc and destruction back into my life.
But now I am prepared.
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In my opinion, you can never have too many succulents, and you can never have too many stories about succulents. Here are a few to choose from: