Ever wondered how to get rid of aphids once and for all without treating your crop to harsh chemicals?
You are not alone.
That’s the same thing every environmentally conscious gardener wants. Because let’s face it, we can’t wish away pesky pests in our gardens every now and then.
Knowing what to do when they strike can be a game changer for you.
In this article, you’re going to learn how to get rid of aphids naturally and efficiently.
Let’s dive in:
What Are Aphids?
Aphids are small, soft-bodied insects with long slender mouthparts that they use to pierce stems, leaves, and other tender plant parts and suck out fluids.
Almost every plant has one or more aphid species that occasionally feed on it. Many aphid species are difficult to tell apart. However, the control measures of most aphid species is similar.
You might also be interested in learning How to Get Rid of Flea Beetles on Eggplant Naturally
How Can You Identify Them?
Aphids have soft pear-shaped bodies with long legs and antennae and they come in a variety of colours from green, red, brown, yellow, or black depending on the species and the plants they feed on.
A few species appear waxy or woolly due to the secretion of a waxy white or gray substance over their body surface. Most species have a pair of tubelike structures called cornicles projecting backward out of the hind end of their body.
The presence of cornicles distinguishes aphids from all other insects.
Generally adult aphids are wingless, but most species also occur in winged forms, especially when populations are high or during spring and fall.
The ability to produce winged individuals provides the pest with a way to disperse to other plants when the quality of the food source deteriorates.
Although they may be found singly, aphids often feed in dense groups on leaves or stems.
Unlike leafhoppers, plant bugs, and certain other insects, most aphids don't move rapidly when disturbed.
What is the impact of their damage?
Leaf-feeding aphids are not necessarily damaging especially when the numbers are low to moderate.
However, large aphid populations can turn leaves yellow and stunt shoots.
They can also produce large quantities of a sticky exudate known as honeydew, which often turns black with the growth of a sooty mold fungus thus reducing the ability of a plant to photosynthesize their food.
Some aphid species inject a toxin into plants, which causes leaves to curl and further distorts growth. A few species cause gall formations.
Aphids may transmit viruses from plant to plant on certain vegetable and ornamental plants.
The viruses mottle, yellow, or curl leaves and stunt plant growth.
Although losses can be great, they are difficult to prevent by controlling aphids, because infection occurs even when aphid numbers are very low.
It takes only a few minutes for the aphid to transmit the virus, while it takes a much longer time to kill the aphid especially if you don’t have an effective strategy.
If your trees or garden matters to you, then getting rid of aphids permanently should become a priority as soon as you spot them.
Now that you know what aphids are, how to identify them, and their impact of damage, let’s get to several tactics for killing aphids.
How to Get Rid of Aphids Naturally and Permanently
1. Always remember, prevention is better than cure
The best strategy for dealing with plant pest and diseases is to not have to deal with them in the first place. And the best way is to always prevent their infestation or infection.
Here is how to prevent aphids:
Keep the plant healthy by providing appropriate nutrition, water and pruning where necessary. Aphids and other bugs have a strong sense for weak struggling plants.
Regular monitoring to identify and resolve any problems relating to nutrient deficiency early enough. Check your plants regularly for aphids—at least twice a week when plants are growing rapidly—in order to catch infestations early, so you can knock or hose them off or prune them out.
Regulate the amount of Nitrogen-based fertilizer especially during the vegetative stage of growth.
2. Use push and pull strategy
Push and pull strategy is one of the most effective and natural ways to get rid of aphids permanently. It is the same method used in the control of corn stalk borers, where napier grass is planted in companion with corn to attract and trap the stalk borer.
It is therefore Important to practice companion planting of crops in different families.
Specifically, plant members of the allium family such as onion and garlic in companion with your main crop. Plants in Allium family are very effective in repelling and pushing away aphids.
On the other hand, plant crops in brassica family such as kale and collards to attract and pull the aphids. If anything, aphids don’t really cause much harm to these crops.
Alternatively, you can plant dahlia plant next to a susceptible crop. Dahlias are effective in attractive these bugs.
This strategy works in assumption that; given a choice, aphids will choose their favorite plant over any other.
3. Use yellow stick traps
Most of the pests have phototaxis, and yellow is the favourite colour of common pests like aphids. With this yellow sticky trap, pests just cannot control themselves and keep flying towards it.
Sticky traps also serve as monitoring tool to determine the level of infestation. A few trapped aphids indicate low infestation and vice versa.
Here is my best recommendation – Kensizer Dual-sided Yellow Sticky Trap for indoor and outdoor use.
To achieve the best results, introduce the traps early in the season before the pest springs up. By catching the winged adults with Yellow Sticky Traps before they reach the plants, the build-up of pests will be delayed.
4. Use natural enemies otherwise known as biological control of aphids
When it comes to killing aphids naturally, three formidable predators come to mind. Lady Bug, Hoverflies, and the Green Lace Wing which have an appetite to feed on a ton of aphids every single day.
There are two ways to bring these beneficial bugs to your garden:
- You can encourage them to come to your garden by planting plants that attract good bugs. For example, fern leaf yarrow, lavender globe lily, and “lemon gem” marigold.
- You can also intentionally introduce them by buying live good bugs from reputable outlets nearest to you.
5. Create biodiversity in your garden
Creating a conducive environment means, nature will balance the equation between destructive and constructive organisms.
This is a similar approach to biological control except creating biodiversity is more broader and all inclusive. It entails a combination of introducing natural enemies, companion planting, and eco-friendly garden practices.
A good example is having bird baths, trees, flowers, and bird feeders which will ensure you have plenty of birds around which in term feeds on bugs such as the aphids.
6. Rub them away
At the initial stages while the aphid infestation is still low, you can manually rub them away from the plant. Being soft bodied insects, they won’t survive the impact.
Remember to first wear your garden gloves beforehand to avoid unnecessary injuries.
You can do this especially for young plants which are sensitive to other control measures like high pressure washing (hosing).
7. Apply water with high pressure (hosing)
One of the most popular bug control tactic is hosing. To do this, wash aphids off with a jet of high pressured water using a watering hose and a regulated nozzle.
Make sure to support the weaker plant stems and branches to avoid breaking off.
For a very dense bush where the normal water pressure cannot penetrate, use a bug blaster nozzle instead.
There are two reasons why this tactic works very well:
- High pressure water kills the bugs by reaping them apart.
- Those that don’t get hit, drowns by the sheer volume of water.
8. Use organic insecticide
This is the best option to get rid of aphids indoors but works great outdoor too. You should use this only as your last resort.
Exercise caution and responsibility since even though you’ll be using organic or natural insecticides, they might harm beneficial insects too.
You can make your own concoction by mixing Castile soap with water. Use a spray bottle to spray killing the aphids with soapy water. Or go for commercial alternatives.
Here are my most effective recommendations:
Make sure you alternate these products for effectiveness and to avoid resistance while targeting different stages of the aphids cycle.
9. Keep the ants around your garden under control
Ants have an extraordinary symbiotic relationship with aphids.
Aphids produce a sticky wax-like substance called honey dew which is fed on by ants. In turn, ants help aphids to get on top of the plant from the ground.
Ants also protect the aphids from natural enemies.
Cutting this relationship helps minimize the prevalence and impact of each in our case, the aphids. This means one way to get rid of aphids is to get rid of ants especially when they are in large numbers.
It is no doubt that large numbers of aphids can cause untold harm to your garden and trees.
In fact, it takes only a few minutes for the aphids to transmit a virus, while it takes a much longer time to kill the them especially if you don’t have an effective strategy.
You’re lucky because you’ve just read 9 strategies on how to get rid of aphids permanently without using strong chemicals.
Back to you:
Let us know if you’ve ever had an experience with aphids and what you did to eliminate them. I’ll be waiting in the comments 😉