Aphids are among the most devastating and damaging pests in a garden. These pests cause browning, curled leaves, deformed flowers, stunted growth, withering, and low production.
Fortunately, it is possible to prevent aphid infestation using the simple and effective methods discussed below.
What Do Aphids Look Like In A Plant?
You won’t see the insects themselves during the early stages of aphid infestation. Instead, you notice damage to buds, leaves, and stems.
Signs of aphids’ plant damage include:
- Yellowing foliage
- Curled leaves
- Deformed fruits and flowers
- Galls on roots
- Dead shoots
Also, you may notice plants take longer to germinate.
With time, more plant aphids infest your garden and become visible. Often, you see aphids on the damaged plants, especially on the undersides of leaves and stems.
These insects come in red, green, brown, and yellow colors. However, the most damaging aphids are the green ones since they blend with leaves and stems, making them unnoticeable in small numbers.
Some aphids have wings to facilitate movement. They fly to other food sources when the current one is overcrowded.
While this trait helps garden aphids establish many colonies, it is problematic for gardeners since they may mistake them for other pests.
How Do Aphids Damage Plants?
Aphids hurt your garden and reduce agricultural yields in several ones.
First, they feast on the plant sap, weakening the plants. As a result, you get a low quality and quantity of fruit, and, in extreme cases, the plant dies.
Second, aphids secret honeydew on leaves hindering light absorption –light is necessary for germination.
Third, since aphids reproduce quickly, they wreak havoc on your garden before you notice.
Fourth, getting rid of a severe aphid infestation is time-consuming, laborious, and expensive.
Lastly, aphids are notorious for virus transmission. They carry viruses from diseased plants to healthy ones, affecting production significantly.
While we perceive aphids negatively as plant destroyers, they have a positive side.
Aphids in the garden signal something is out of balance. They often infest plants undergoing stress, such as lack of water, overwatering, and over-fertilizing.
Therefore, it pays to address any problems in your garden facilitating aphid infestation.
How to Prevent Aphids on Plants
Prevention is easier and less costly than intervention when it comes to pests.
Therefore, invest in aphid prevention measures to keep your garden healthy and pest-free.
Here are simple but effective aphid prevention tips.
Introduce Beneficial Insects
Insects like ladybugs, hoverflies, lacewings, and parasitic wasps feed on aphids. As such, consider introducing them to keep aphids off your garden or lawn.
Flowers like marigold, sunflower, and daisy attract these beneficial insects.
Water Your Plants
Garden aphids are more likely to infest stressed plants.
With temperatures soaring in summer, plants become more vulnerable to stress due to a lack of water.
As a result, they are more defenseless and cannot produce chemicals to fight pests.
Watering your plants makes them strong, healthy, and able to resist pests.
Invest In Row Covers
Row covers are helpful for vegetable gardens because they keep off pests like aphids while letting water, light, and nutrients get to the plants.
However, such covers are best for seedlings and should not be used for mature plants.
Use Insecticidal Soap
Insecticidal soaps effectively kill aphids by disrupting their membranes and suffocating them.
They are good for eradicating aphids on indoor plants since other methods, like spraying water and introducing beneficial insects, are unfeasible.
Nevertheless, use the soap on infested areas only, not the entire plant. Neem Oil is also a great choice.
Grow Pest-Repelling Plants
Growing plants with powerful aromas and pest-repellant properties around your garden or yard is an excellent way of preventing aphids.
These plants prevent pests like aphids and enhance your garden’s aesthetics.
For example, herbs like chives, peppermint, and dill are good at deterring aphids with their aroma.
Consider Trap Crops
Trap crops attract aphids, deterring them from infesting valuable plants.
It is best practice to grow trap crops next to primary crops and at the perimeter of your garden. Nettles, calendula, and nasturtiums are good sacrificial crops.
While your plants may be safe from aphids, the weeds may not.
Therefore, watch out for aphids on weeds since they may spread to your flowers and vegetables, and remove them as needed. Also, some weeds attract aphids.
How To Get Rid Of Plant Aphids
If you notice aphids in your garden, act promptly to keep them under control and prevent damage.
The faster you handle the infestation, the greater your success in exterminating them and saving your plants.
Here are a few easy ways to eliminate aphids in your garden.
Spray With Water
One of the fastest ways to eliminate aphids is spraying with water. High-pressure water removes aphids by killing them or knocking them down.
Once on the ground, these insects rarely climb back. Consider using a garden hose to spray water.
Remove By Hand
Wear some gloves and get ready for some DIY aphid removal.
Identify the location of aphid colonies in leaves, flower buds, and stems, and use your hands to knock them off.
Do not forget to prune affected plant areas to prevent the aphids from spreading to other parts.
Crush With Your Fingers
Since aphids are small and soft-bodied, a little pressure with your fingers immediately crashes them.
This method is ideal for small infestations, and although it does not get rid of all aphids, it reduces their population.
This way, your plants grow healthy and pest-free.
Use A Systemic Pesticide
Consider banishing aphids in your garden using a systemic pesticide. This pesticide gets rid of aphids but doesn’t hurt pollinators like butterflies.
However, ensure you adhere to the manufacturer’s instructions when using the pesticides.
From stunting growth to spreading viruses and disfiguring fruits and flowers, aphids are stubborn pests causing damage to plants and lowering produce and productivity.
However, aphids are preventable using physical controls, beneficial insects and plants, and chemicals.
Use the tips above to prevent aphid infestation and protect the garden you have worked so hard to grow.