-- Frank Pittman, MD --
My potted patio tomato plant has really taken off. It's big and lush and covered with blossoms.
The two potted sweet pepper plants, however, haven't done as well. There was no change in size for three weeks. Then, about three days ago, I checked it more carefully, and found it covered with cheek-by-jowl aphids. They weren't there the day before.
About the same time I noticed some kind of tiny bee-like insect hovering and darting around almost all my flowers - the pansies in particular. They move like bees. A bee with a very pointy behind. It looked dangerous, bite or sting, and was showing far too much interest in the flowers on the porch.
I wasn't able to get out to find something that would kill aphids without poisoning the peppers or the soil until yesterday. I found a spray that is all plant oils, like peppermint, rosemary thyme, and clove, and not much else (EcoSmart). The directions said to wait until the cool of evening to spray.
So last evening I went to spray the peppers, and was amazed! In one day they'd almost doubled in size and had a healthy knot of infant leaves. And no aphids! None. Two days before they had been covered with them. Now there were none.
Later, out of curiosity, I got out my bug book and looked up the tiny bee-darting thingy.
It's called a snipe fly (family Rhagionidae), and they are predators, and their favorite snack is aphids.
That's where the aphids went.
In this photo, scarfed from the internet, it's obvious it's some kind of fly, not bee, just by the shape of the head and eyes - but they are so tiny you don't notice that. One easy to notice characteristic is that if one lands near you, and you move to touch it, it will hop and sidle away rather than take off.
So if you see any tiny (less than 1/3 inch) bee-looking things with long pointy behinds in your garden, don't hurt them. They might LOOK like they could bite or sting, but they don't.
Send them my way.