If you notice that the leaves or stems of your garden plants are covered with a sticky substance, it is a clear sign that aphids may have been sipping sap from them.
No matter how careful you are, aphids seem to find their way into every garden.
Aphids are those white bugs that you can see on your plants. They can be found feeding on a wide variety of plants and fruit-bearing trees, such as roses, beans, cabbage, potatoes, peaches, melons, apples and more.
They feed on plant juices – attacking leaves, stems, buds, flowers, fruit and even the roots. As a result, flowers or fruit can become distorted or deformed.
Apart from a sticky substance covering the leaves or stems, other common signs of aphid damage include misshapen, curling, stunted or yellow leaves, and a sudden increase in the ant population roaming your garden.
These small yet harmful insects can survive in almost any zone. They multiply quickly, so it’s important to control them before reproduction starts. Since these insects tend to move rather slowly, you can easily control them.
There are many simple and effective ways to get those aphids out of your garden.
Here are the top 10 ways to get rid of aphids.
1. Manual Removal
If the infestation is only minor and the damage to your plants is just beginning, you may be able to physically remove the aphids. All you need is a good pair of gardening gloves and a brush.
You can brush the insects off the leaves into a container. Another option is to prune off infected stalks, which in turn will prevent the aphids from spreading to healthy parts of the plants.
Finally, finish the task by dropping the aphids into a bucket of soapy water to kill them.
Follow up with frequent inspections of your garden to make sure you got them all and catch the problem early if not.
2. Blast of Water
Spraying water on your plants can go a long way toward getting rid of aphids if the infestation is mild.
A strong blast of water will dislodge them from the leaves and stems. Most dislodged aphids will be unable to return to the plant and ultimately die.
Fill your garden sprayer with water and start hosing down your plants, especially on both tops and bottoms of the leaves. Always spray infected plants with the hand sprayer in the early morning when the sun is not very strong, and when it is not going to rain. Make sure not to be too harsh on your plants, as it can affect their health.
Repeat this after a couple of days if you see any more aphids on your plants.
3. Neem Oil
Neel oil is a natural garden pesticide and insect repellent that can deter and kill aphids. This oil is also effective on other harmful pests, such as beetles, cabbage worms, ants, caterpillars and leaf miners.
Plus, it helps control fungal growth in your garden.
- Put 2 tablespoons of neem oil and 1 tablespoon of mild liquid soap in a spray bottle.
- Fill the rest of the bottle with water, and shake well to mix up the ingredients.
- Spray the solution on your plants, either in the morning or evening to avoid the sun.
- Repeat 2 or 3 times a week, or as needed.
4. Food-Grade Diatomaceous Earth
Food-grade diatomaceous earth (DE) is a natural insecticide. It consists of the fossils of tiny aquatic organisms known as diatoms. The microscopically sharp edges of diatoms can cut through the protective coverings of insects and ultimately kill them.
- Dust some food-grade DE around the garden and plants.
- Do it in the early morning or late evening when the plants are wet with dew. The moisture helps the DE adhere to the plant.
- Repeat once or twice a week as needed.
Note: When handling or applying DE, wear a respiratory dust mask and safety goggles to protect your respiratory tract and eyes.
5. Beneficial Insects
You can also protect your plants from harmful aphids by introducing proactive bugs into your garden.
Ladybirds, also called ladybug beetles are beneficial bugs that you can easily find in gardening stores. In fact, ladybugs can eat as many as 50 to 100 aphids a day!
Green lacewings and hoverflies are also known to eat aphids.
Purchase the bugs and place them in close proximity to the area with the aphids, so they can start dining right away.
6. Liquid Soap
You can also get rid of a mild to moderate aphid infestation using liquid soap.
Aphids have a waxy protective coating on their bodies that dissolves upon coming in contact with soapy water. This in turn dehydrates the insects and eventually kills them without harming the plant.
- Put 1 quart of water and 1 teaspoon of liquid dish soap in a spray bottle.
- Shake it thoroughly, then spray it on the infected plants. Do it either in the early morning or late evening.
- Repeat every 2 or 3 days for 2 weeks.