Aphids are a big problem for gardeners and farmers of all types. There are more than 4000 different species of aphids. Of these, 250 types are very damaging to crops.
Aphids mostly attack tender, young plants by piercing the stems and sucking out the sap which is full of nutrients. This deprives the plant of the fuel and nutrition it needs to survive and thrive.
In addition to depleting a plant’s resources, aphids also carry viruses. These viruses can infect plants and can actually wipe out entire crops.
Grains, potatoes and citrus fruits are especially susceptible to viruses carried by aphids.
As if this weren’t enough, aphids also attract ants. Because they excrete a sweet substance known as honeydew.
Ants are attracted to this and will actually keep aphids as “livestock” in order to maintain a steady supply of honeydew.
Honeydew that is not collected by ants tends to collect on the plant surface causing a barrier to sunlight. This interferes with photosynthesis and further compromises your plants’ health and ability to survive.
Page Contents & Navigation
- Is It Possible To Eliminate Aphids?
- #1 – Pick Them Off!
- #2 – Remove Affected Plants
- #3 – Hose Them Down!
- #4 – Wash Them Away!
- #5 – Neem Oil
- #6 – Essential Oils Can Also Be Used In Much The Same Way As Neem Oil And Dish Soap
- #7 – Maintain A Healthy Population Of Beneficial Insects
- #8 – Repel Aphids With Plants
- #9 – Keep The Ants Away!
- #10 – Create Habitat For Birds!
- #11 – Distract The Aphids!
- #12 – Keep Your Plants Healthy!
- Stay In Balance!
Is It Possible To Eliminate Aphids?
To completely eradicate aphids, you would have to broadcast poison over your garden. This would be detrimental to beneficial fauna and to you.
Instead of doing away with them altogether, it is preferable to simply keep your aphid population under control.
This is a project you must stay on top of because they can reproduce very quickly if left unchecked.
However, for more advanced infestations, certain herbal oils, insecticidal soaps or even plain old soap and water may do the trick.
In this article, we explore a dozen different ways that you can control aphids naturally.
#1 – Pick Them Off!
If you notice a few aphids on your plants, simply pick them off right away. If your infestation is very light, this may be all you need to do.
If you have quite a few aphids, you’ll want to put on a pair of close-fitting gloves to pinch them off and brush them away.
#2 – Remove Affected Plants
If your aphid infestation only affects a few branches or a few plants, remove these.
Keep individual plants quarantined and treat them with soapy water to kill the aphid infestation.
If you have simply pruned away a few infested branches, put them in a bucket of soapy water to soak and kill off the aphids. Alternately, if you have a burn pile you might want to burn these branches.
#3 – Hose Them Down!
With established plants, a vigorous hosing can knock off small aphid infestations. This is a good follow-up after picking individual aphids off mature plants.
Hosing is not a good idea for small, young plants as it may damage or kill them.
#4 – Wash Them Away!
Dish soap will dissolve the waxy coating that protects aphids’ bodies. This will cause them to become dehydrated and die very quickly.
You don’t have to make a very strong solution. Just a couple of tablespoons of dishwashing liquid in a quart of water sprayed directly on the aphids will kill him.
Be careful about broadcasting this solution because it will also kill beneficial insects such as ladybugs, praying mantises and the like.
Use it only specifically on aphid infestations that you can see.
#5 – Neem Oil
Neem oil is a natural antifungal, antibacterial and insecticidal oil that can be added to your dish soap concoction or used instead of dish soap in the same way.
It not only kills aphids, it also repels them. Unfortunately, like dish soap it is unfriendly to beneficial insects so use it sparingly.
#6 – Essential Oils Can Also Be Used In Much The Same Way As Neem Oil And Dish Soap
Using essential oils… Add half a dozen drops each of rosemary, thyme, peppermint and clove oils to a quart of water to make an excellent aphid killing and repelling spray.
As a bonus, you can also spray this on yourself to repel insects such as mosquitoes.
#7 – Maintain A Healthy Population Of Beneficial Insects
When you have reduced your aphid population with aversive means, try introducing some beneficial insects to your garden.
You can purchase ladybugs from farm supply websites and sometimes from your local garden center.
Green Lace-Wings eat aphids, and you can sometimes purchase them or their eggs to populate your garden.
You can also naturally attract beneficial predator insects to your garden by planting fragrant herbs throughout the garden. Some of the best choices include:
Be advised that if you have cats or if there are cats in your neighborhood, you should leave the catnip out of this mix!
#8 – Repel Aphids With Plants
Just as you can attract beneficial insects to your garden with fragrant herbs, you can repel aphids with plants such as garlic and onion. As a bonus, the flowers of these plants will also attract beneficial insects.
#9 – Keep The Ants Away!
As we have said, honeydew attract ants and they tend to be very protective of their aphid herds.
Ants may even interfere with birds being able to eat aphids, so it’s a good idea to prevent them ever discovering that there are aphids on your plants.
You can do this by distracting them with baited traps on the ground and at the base of infested plants. A jar lid containing a few drops of honey or sugar water should do the trick.
#10 – Create Habitat For Birds!
Remember that having a healthy bird population in your garden is a good way to keep the insects down. This includes aphids!
The best birds for eating aphids are small ones such as titmice, chickadees and wrens. Attract them by providing bushy hedges and small trees for them to nest and hide in.
Some good choices include hydrangeas, privet hedge and boxwood.
Place birdhouses strategically and provide birds with foods such as shelled or black oil sunflower seeds to attract them and keep them present so that they will also eat your aphids!
#11 – Distract The Aphids!
Along with all of your other strategies, you might also plant a decoy garden to draw the aphids away from your other plants.
You can follow the ants’ example and cultivate your aphids in this area so there will always be plenty of good food for your bird population.
Additionally, you should be advised that these plants should not be intermixed with your other plants as they will tend to increase your aphid problem.
#12 – Keep Your Plants Healthy!
Be sure that you understand the care requirements for all of the types of plants you grow. Strong healthy plants naturally repel aphids and disease.
Stay In Balance!
Learn from the balance of nature. Keeping aphids under control is not a one-step process.
While you could spray poison all over your yard and kill them all off, they would simply come back again when the poison wears off.
It is far wiser to create a balance by targeting aphids when you see them, cultivating a good population of beneficial insects and birds and creating distractions to keep the aphids away from your most prized plants.