What's on my Brussel Sprouts?

Asked October 8, 2015, 4:52 PM EDT

My Brussel sprouts have something on them and its penetrating into the buds as well as on the leaves. It looks like sand but isn't. Is it harmful to eat? What is it and what can i do to help my plants? It started on my cabbage but avoided the tomato plants.

Kootenai County Idaho

1 Response

These look like aphids--note the twin "tailpipes" (cornicles) coming off the wide end of the pear-shaped insect. You can hand wipe the aphids and their debris (frass=excrement) from the leaves, or wash it off with a hose. One of the ways you can prevent aphids is to use a low -or slow release nitrogen fertilizer--aphids are attracted to high nitrogen in plants. You can also attract beneficial insects to your garden--and one way of doing that is to avoid the use of pesticides as much as possible, relying on cultural controls such as washing the leaves or pruning off affected leaves, and cleaning up dead leaves from underneath the plants .

You can eat the Brussel Sprouts--just wash them well like you ordinarily do.

WSU's Hortsense has a great article on managing aphids.