How To Get Rid Of Aphids In The Garden


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Are you wondering how to get rid of aphids in the garden?

Don’t worry although aphids can cause a lot of damage to your plants they are easy to get rid of. Using natural ways to control them such as water, insecticidal soap, or neem oil is very effective.

Aphids are one of the most common garden pests in home gardens.

They can cause a lot of damage quickly to your plants.

But the good news is they are actually one of the easiest pests to control.

The first thing you’ll want to do is learn how to identify aphids so that you know this is the pest you are dealing with.

Then you can use organic methods to control them.

How To Get Rid Of Aphids text overlaid on a photo of green aphids feeding on a leaf

What Are Aphids?

Light green aphids
Light green aphids

Aphids are small, soft-bodied insects that suck sap from plants.

They are found in just about all growing zones and a common pest for gardeners. Aphids can have many generations in one season and can quickly become a bad pest so it’s best to get them under control quickly.

Identification

Aphids are very tiny insects and often hard to notice in your garden. The adults are less than 1/4 inch (6.35 mm) in size.

They have pear-shaped bodies and long antennae. There are many speeches of aphids and they can be found in many colors such as green, white, grey, black, brown, yellow, and pink.

Most types have two tubes (called cornices) projecting from their backside.

Adult aphids are normally wingless but they can develop wings when they become overcrowded. This lets them move to a new feeding ground easier.

Are There More Than One Type O Aphid?

Yellow aphids
Yellow aphids

Aphids will feed on a wide range of plants but there are some types that are specific to certain types of plants.

For example:

  • Bean aphids
  • Cabbage aphids
  • Melon aphids
  • Potato aphids
  • Green peach aphids
  • Wooly apple aphids
  • Pear aphids

Aphid Damage

Aphid damage on currant bushes, looks like red bubbles from the top.
Aphid damage on currant bushes, looks like red bubbles from the top.

Both the nymphs and adult aphids feed on the plant juices.

They attack the leaves, buds, stems, flowers, fruit and even roots. But the damage can depend on what type of aphid you are dealing with.

Aphids tend to prefer to eat on tender new growth so that’s a good place to start looking for damage.

Aphids on the underside of leaves on a currant bush.
Aphids on the underside of leaves on a currant bush.

The first sign you have an aphid problem is the odd appearance of the leaves. They start to look curled, misshapen and yellowish.

Then the leaves will often turn a red color and look like the leaves are blistered.

If you see these signs in your garden make sure to check on the undersides of the leaves for aphids.

Ants caring for aphids to collect honeydew.
Ants caring for aphids to collect honeydew.

If the leaves or stems are covered with an odd sticky liquid this is also a sign that aphids have been feeding on your plants.

This sugary liquid often called “honeydew” is a waste of the insects.

It often attracts other insects such as ants because they like the sugary taste. Ants will actually groom and care for aphids just to collect the honeydew they make.

Sometimes this sweet liquid also causes sooty mold to grow, making leaves and branches look black.

How To Get Rid Of Aphids In Your Garden

Pale green aphids
Pale green aphids

1. Water Spray

When you find aphids on your plants the first thing you should do is spray them with a strong stream of water.

This dislodges them from the plants and often they can’t find there way back.

2. Neem Oil

Neem oil is a natural repellent for aphids and many other garden pests. But it can also repel beneficial insects to so take care in how you use it.

This natural oil interferes with insect hormones and makes it harder for them to grow and lay eggs.

3. Insecticidal Soap

Insecticidal soap is a really easy way to control aphids too. You can buy it premade or make your own. Just remember to apply it under the leaves where the aphids are hiding.

4. Diatomaceous Earth

Food grade diatomaceous earth (DE) is an organic powder that will kill aphids and any other insects that comes into contact with it.

This powder is very sharp to them and causes cuts in their exoskeleton making them dry out.

It’s easy to sprinkle on plants as needed but not quite as easy to apply to the undersides of the leaves where aphids normally hide.

Get diatomaceous earth here.

How To Prevent Aphids

1. Proper Watering

Aphids are often attracted to plants that are stressed by lack of water. So after removing the aphids make sure that you are watering your plants consistently.

2. Kill The Eggs

To help keep aphids off trees and shrubs you can spray them in the winter with a horticultural oil that will kill the overwintering eggs.

3. Beneficial Insects

Ladybug larva eating aphids.
Ladybug larva eating aphids.

Creating a balanced habitat in your garden that attracts beneficial insects is a great way to reduce aphid damage.

There are many insects that feed on aphids such as lady beetles, parasitic wasps, and lacewings. You can even order ladybugs and parasitic wasps online to get started.

4. Companion Planting

Companion planting can also help to lower aphid problems in your garden.

Some bugs just don’t like certain plants, and some plants help to mask the scent of others making it harder for the pest to find them.

Plants that repel aphids are:

  • Catnip
  • Garlic
  • Chives
  • Leeks
  • Marigolds
  • Dill
  • Fennel
  • Cilantro

Along with companion planting, you can use trap crops to lour them away from your important plants.

Aphids love nasturtiums and mustard so planting these in a corner of your garden can help keep aphids off your other plants. Then when you see them starting to damage your trap crop you can spray them to get rid of them easily in one place.

Active Time
20 minutes

Total Time
20 minutes

Difficulty
Easy

Materials

  • Water
  • Neem oil (optional)
  • Insecticidal soap (optional)
  • Diatomaceous earth (optional)

Instructions

  1. When aphids first arrive on your plants use a strong spray of water to dislodge them. Many will not find their way back to the plant.
  2. Neem oil is another organic pesticide that works well for both killing and preventing aphids. Spray the leaves of your plants following the directions on the bottle. Make sure to get under the leaves where aphids hide.
  3. Insecticidal soap is a cheap option for killing aphids too. Spray the leaves remembering to get the undersides as it has to contact the aphids to work.
  4. Diatomaceous earth works well to kill many insects including aphids. Try applying it as a liquid so that it’s easier to get under the leaves. Once it dries it will be effective.

How To Prevent Aphids

  1. Water your plants constantly. Plants that are stressed for water are more likely to have aphid damage.
  2. You can kill aphid eggs before they hatch by applying a horticultural oil on trees and shrubs to kill overwintering eggs.
  3. Encourage beneficial insects such as ladybugs, lacewings and parasitic wasps in your garden by planting flowers and herbs that attract them.
  4. Use companion planting to help prevent aphids. Plant herbs such as catnip, chives, dill, fennel, and cilantro or vegetables such as garlic and leaks to repel aphids from plants. Marigolds help too and look very pretty in your vegetable garden.
  5. You can try using trap crops such as nasturtiums one of their favourite flowers to feed on in a corner of your garden to lour them away from your other plants.

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