Due to their destructive legacy, aphids are the enemies of farmers and home-gardeners throughout the world. The majority of aphid infestations occur indoors or inside greenhouses where these little critters can feed and breed without the interference of natural predators. An aphid infestation in an outdoor garden can be a sign of an unhealthy ecosystem, but sometimes is just bad luck.
An aphid infestation can be a frustrating experience that threatens the life of your plants. For indoor plants, this can undo years of effort. Luckily, you can get rid of aphids without too much effort. Follow these seven natural steps to be rid of your aphid-related woes.
1. Blast Them Away.
Blasting the aphids away is perhaps the easiest way to deal with minor aphid infestations. If your aphid infestation isn’t spread out over too many plants, and the plants that are infested are strong enough to withstand it, then grab your garden hose and blast those aphids with a strong jet of water.
This approach works best for indoor plants. Bring them outside before rinsing off any aphids. Once the aphids are removed, return the plant indoors.
It is important to make sure you get rid of all of the aphids. Aphids reproduce asexually; meaning it only takes a single survivor to infest your plants a second time.
2. Use “Neem” oil.
An organic chemical present in “Neem” oil works by repelling aphids. Fill a spray bottle until it is nearly full with water and add a teaspoon of “Neem” oil. Shake up this mixture and spray it directly onto your plant. Ensure that you cover the entire plant in this process.
“Neem” oil won’t just protect your plants from aphids but from a host of other baddies as well, including mealy bugs, cabbageworms, ants, and several others. This oil will also protect against some plant-killing fungi as well. Keep in mind that while “Neem” oil won’t necessarily kill beneficial insects, it can discourage them from visiting your garden. For this reason, only apply “Neem” oil or any other form of natural insecticide when other solutions have failed.
3. Recruit Some Allies.
Who better to get rid of aphids than their natural enemies? If you have an aphid infestation in your greenhouse or home garden, consider getting a higher number of local aphid eating insects.
Ladybugs are your most well known ally in this regard. You can buy ladybugs in bulk from most gardening suppliers. In many regions, you can even find them online to be delivered right to your doorstep. These ladybugs come in a bag or bucket allowing you to release them directly into your garden.
Of course, this approach works best for greenhouses where the ladybugs are forced to stick around for a while. It can still work in your backyard garden if you carefully follow the instructions on the bag or bucket and release the ladybugs at the correct time of day. This method is not really suggested for indoor plants. While the ladybugs will likely deal with your indoor aphid problems, you’ll be finding dried-up ladybug corpses in your house for years.
To attract other aphid predators to your garden, like lacewings or hoverflies, plant herbs like clover, mint, dill, fennel, and yarrow, and you should have a free anti-aphid army at your disposal in no time at all!
4. Place Your Plant Outside.
If your aphid infestation is limited to indoor plants, try taking the affected plants outdoors. Of course, don’t opt for this approach if it is cold, raining heavily, or if there is some other form of weather that can adversely affect your plant.
If you can leave your plant in a quiet and sunny area for a few days, then natural predators of the aphid are likely to stop-by for a quick snack. If this does not remove the aphids completely, it might still help to decrease their numbers and make it easier for you to remove any stragglers mechanically, which leads to our next step.
5. Physical Removal.
This approach is just as straightforward as it sounds. What more surefire way is there to get rid of aphids than to pluck them with your own hands? This can become tedious if your plant has a heavy aphid infestation, or if the aphids have spread to multiple plants. For this reason, we suggest trying some less labor-intensive approaches to reduce the aphids’ numbers before you go after them with your thumb and forefinger.
You can use a pair of gardening gloves to pick aphids off of your plants. Alternatively, you can use tweezers to grab the little pests, but be careful not to injure your plant in the process.
Another way to remove aphids by hand is using an old toothbrush to flick them off of the plant.
6. Invite Some Birds
There are plenty of bug-eating birds that will visit your outdoor garden if you extend the proper invitation. Encourage nesting birds like wrens, chickadees, and titmice to congregate around your garden. The best way to attract these aphid-loving predators is to offer food and shelter. They prefer nesting in small trees and shrubs, so planting some of these around your garden is a good way to get them to pay a visit.
Small birdhouses and feeders specifically designed for these species is a quicker solution. Fill these feeders with seeds for small birds like black oil sunflower seeds, pre-hulled sunflower seeds, and nut hearts.
So now you know some great ways to get rid of aphids naturally. But what exactly are aphids, you might be asking? Aphids, or plant lice as they are commonly called, are tiny green insects that suck the sap of trees and plants. There are over 4,000 identified species of aphid. Collectively, they are among the most destructive pests affecting cultivated crops in North America.
Aphids have many natural enemies beyond the ones listed previously in this article, including ladybugs, hoverflies, parasitic wasps, crab spiders, lacewings, and insect-infecting fungi. In a healthy ecosystem, these natural predators serve to keep aphids in check. However, conventional agricultural methods relying on heavy pesticide use and seldom allow these balances to develop, as they destroy both beneficial and parasitic insects.
Finding an army of aphids on your plants can cause a real panic. Relax: there are plenty of solutions available to get rid of these uninvited visitors. There are even steps you can take to increase your plants’ resistance to future aphid infestations as well. So give a few of them a try, one might just put an end to your aphid woes for good!