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Aphids are small and soft-bodied insects that can wreak havoc on any unsuspecting crop, leaving dead and wilting leaves in their wake. These sap-sucking, spikey-mouthed menaces come in many different colors and have a tendency to bunch under leaves which can make them difficult to spot. Whether you are a budding gardener or an established agriculturalist, It’s important to manage and, if at all possible, avoid aphid infestations altogether.
Aphids are known for feeding and congregating in large groups, and can cause severe damage to any garden or greenhouse crops. Treating these unwanted guests as early as possible, before they can get a chance to reproduce is going to be paramount in making a difference in your aphid control.
Handling predatory bugs might not be your idea of a good time, but your greenhouse plants will thank you for the effort.
So, how do you get rid of an aphid infestation? Spaying plants with soapy water is sufficient for the most part. Adding neem oil will enhance the effects and help with other pesky insects and fungus problems too. Natural aphid predators such as Ladybugs and Wasps as well as plants like catnip and garlic will help curb the infestation.
Aphid damage on leaves and plants
When aphids move in, they come fast. They bring dozens and even hundreds of them which can lead to an ongoing problem pretty quickly. They are small and come in a variety of shapes and colors, making it sometimes difficult to identify the problem at first. Aphids feed in clusters and can look like small tick-like bugs on the underside of the leaves and stems.
Because aphids are largely attracted to sweet sap, they also tend to attract the attention of ants and other sometimes unsavory guests. It’s important to know the signs of an aphid problem before the long-term damage starts.
Because their lust for sucking the sap out of leaves, plants stems, flowers and fruits can cause havoc on your crops, especially in larger infestations. The symptoms can be visible in the development of the leaves where they become clearly misshapen, curling and yellowish in color.
Signs of an aphid problem
An ant trail can sometimes alert you to the presence of aphids, since they can live in a sort of symbiotic relationship with them to collect food in exchange for protection from predators.
Aphids can feed on a variety of different plants, fruits, and vegetables and there are a few tell-tale signs for an aphid infestation.
The most common signs are wilted and dying leaves that are turning yellow, misshapen produce, and deformed flowers. While most aphids feed on almost anything with a sweet sap, some are specific to certain plant groups.
These tiny little creatures might not be visible at first so be sure to thoroughly check under the leaves and down the stems.
As they love to feed on the sap, if you notice these places are particularly sticky, this could be another sign that aphids have been there.
Roses and other flowers are huge targets of an aphid infestation. Rose hips and buds can be attacked in a matter of just a few days, and generations of aphids in these conditions can be established within a season.
There are also variations of root aphids, which just as the name suggests, attack and feast on certain rooted vegetables and other sweet roots. While these kinds of aphids can prove more difficult to see and equally as difficult to treat, their tells are the same. Wilting produce, damage to the leaves and flowers, and misshapen root systems may all be identifiers for these elusive and difficult pests.
Can plants recover from aphids
These plant parasites can cause tremendous damage to the heathy growth of your plants, essentially sucking the life from them. Aphids love to feast on a range of plants, vegetables, roots and herbs such as tomato plants, roses, pepper plants and any other of your precious crops.
There is some good news, once you have controlled, even a severe case of an aphid pest problem your plants should make a full recovery under the correct growing conditions and even bear fruit once again.
Methods for Aphids Pest Control
If you have found some of the pesky aphids feasting on the sap from your tomato plants, roses, or another of the culinary delights, you’ll need to know how to get rid of aphids as they will breed, multiple and cause havoc on your plants by sucking the sap and causing problems to the growth of your plants. Not only that but as mentioned, the sweetness of the sap will undoubtedly attract the attention of an army of ants, which no one wants.
There are products on the market that will take care of aphids and other pest problems such as Ortho Insect Mite & Disease 3-in-1 (Amazon link) but for the most part the chemicals in the mix will get absorbed by the plant and therefore passed onto the fruits and vegetables – so if you intend to eat what you grow then perhaps take a look at more natural options below.
So let’s look at some common methods on how to get rid of aphids naturally from your greenhouse or garden. Whether you have red aphids, yellow aphids, black aphids, or any other type of aphids, the methods to control and get rid of them are similar.
Homemade Aphid Spray for Pest Control
Sprays are a common means of aphid control as well, water and soap solutions are generally used for these purposes in greenhouses affected by aphids. By mixing a few tablespoons of soap into a water solution and being careful to spray both the tops and bottoms of the leaves can help with the aphid infestation.
Soaking the leaves in this situation might help as well. You can buy pre-mixed sprays for aphid control at most lawn and garden retailers, though doing your research on the components of these can really make a difference in the long-term life and quality of your plants.
By mixing a few tablespoons of dish soap to about a quart of water you’ll have your very own homemade DIY aphid control spray
Be sure to fully cover in soapy water making sure under the leaves and stems are all covered – repeat every few days
Essential Oils for Aphids Pest Control
Oils are also a great alternative for aphid management. Essential oils like clove, peppermint, and thyme can be mixed into a spray solution at a few drops to a bottle ratio. With this method, it’s important to ensure the spray solution saturates the plant and all the insects, including larvae and eggs.
Add 5 or 6 drops of each of the essential oils into the spray bottle filled with water and spray all the infested plants thoroughly, making sure to spray under the leaves too.
Neem Oil for Aphid Control
Outside of this, neem oil can also make a huge difference in your aphid management plan, and help with other bug problems as well.
Neem oil, when accurately diluted, can help with repelling aphids, mealworms, beetles, and caterpillars. Just add a few drops to
Using neem oil as a repellent for aphids is a very common pest control solution as it not only acts as an insect killer but also a fungicide too. A lot of repellents you might buy online use neem oil to help solve aphid infestations
First you will need to make a dish soap and water mix as neem oil being an oil, wont mix in the water correctly – start by adding two tablespoons of dish soap to about a gallon of water, mix and then add two tablespoons of neem oil and mix thoroughly.
Aphids, just like other common insects in your garden, have a slew of natural predators you can use to your benefit. Before you settle on any of these bugs, it’s important to first research which insects thrive and survive in your climate, what bugs are going to be manageable for other purposes, and what resources they will need to fulfill their purpose.
One of a few well known aphid eaters is the common LadyBug. In its adult stages ladybugs can eat aphids, but generally speaking, the larvae are the real aphid hunters. Larvae of the ladybug beetle consume more aphids than most adult stage bugs can, which means if you are going to employ them to be your live pest control, it’s important to give the ladybugs enough time and resources to settle and reproduce.
Another threat to a budding aphid population is the wasp. Many species of parasitic wasps will go after the eggs of other bugs to feed on and attack. It’s important to research the wasps in your area to determine if this is the right way to go for you, and of course a lot of thought should go in to any activity having to do with these sometimes aggressive insects.
Another natural predator for the aphid, but also bugs in general are birds. As previously discussed, before you settle on any of these methods, consideration should be paid to your work space and the longevity of your solutions. To be able to use birds as a natural insect management plan, it’s recommended to add small trees or shrubs around your growing area to encourage nesting in your space, be mindful that birds may also take interest in your crops, and can be just as difficult to manage.
Just like there are many solutions you can employ to help with managing your bug problem, there are tons of plants you can sprout to help the effort. Growing the right plants makes all the difference in a struggling garden.
To begin, it’s important to make sure that all efforts centered around managing the insects you don’t want doesn’t affect the insects you do want in your plots. Beneficial bugs can be hugely disrupted by insecticides and sprays, so means of attracting them can be of the utmost importance. Plants like clover, dill, mint, and fennel can attract bugs which can act as predators for aphids and their offspring.
In contrast, a few plants can act as repellents for predatory bugs like aphids. Sprouts of catnip, garlic, onions, and chives can make it difficult for aphids to settle, allowing for a more natural and hands off solution to your bug problem.
Plants can also be used for luring and trapping unwanted aphid infestations. Aphids are naturally attracted to plants with nodes and stems like roses, dahlias, cosmos, and mustard plants. These can be used as a sort of aphid sacrifice to lure them away from plants you are trying to protect. While alone this is not a solution which rids you of aphids, this method allows for a management solution that can be more effective when used with other means.
Aphids and other pesky insects can be managed and controlled by means of a few different solutions. The effort of insect control can be a difficult and daunting task, but recognizing tthe needs of your plants and the availability of these methods is up to you, though researching as much as possible will help aid the decision. Aphids and other predatory bugs can be a nuisance easily managed with time and patience, and the results can prove worth the trouble in the end. It’s all about what works best for you and your greenery.