Posted on: June 17, 2008 Posted by: Nicole Harding Comments: 1

Due to their destructive nature, aphids are the enemies of farmers and gardeners the world over. Typically, aphid infestations occur inside your home or greenhouse where these tiny bugs can eat and reproduce without the threat of natural predators. Aphid infestations in outdoor gardens can be a sign of an unhealthy ecosystem, but bad luck can also be factor. An aphid infestation can be an annoying experience. For indoor plants, this can undo years of effort. You can usually get rid of aphids without too much effort, however, which is the good news! Here are six steps to be rid of your aphid-related misery.

1. Spray them away.

This approach is likely the easiest way to deal with moderate aphid infestations. If your aphid infestation is limited to a few plants that are strong enough to withstand a good water blast, then grab your garden hose and blast those aphids with a strong jet of water.

This approach is best suited for indoor plants. Of course, take these plants outside before rinsing them off. Once the aphids are removed, you can bring the plant back indoors.
It is important to make sure you get rid of all of the aphids. Aphids reproduce asexually, so it takes just a single survivor to cause a re-infestation. Don’t let all your hard work be for nothing!

2. Use insecticide.

There are many available products for dealing with aphids. Common types include insect growth regulators (IGRs), insecticidal soaps or oils, and pyrethrins. IGRs work by mimicking an aphid’s growth hormones, preventing them from reaching reproductive maturity. They can also destroy the aphid’s exoskeleton. Effective IGRs include Azatin, Enstar, AQ, Neemix, and Preclude, these are all available at most garden supply centers.

If you want to try an approach that is a little less harsh, try looking into insecticidal soaps and oils. These products are sprayed over the infected plant and trap, suffocate, or wash-away any aphids. Another type of aphid treatment involves sprays containing pyrethrin. Pyrethrin is an extract from chrysanthemum flowers and is used in many insecticidal soaps. Pyrethroids are synthetic compounds that mimic pyrethrin, but are equally effective at controlling aphids.

3. Find some natural assistance.

What better way to get rid of aphids than to recruit their natural enemies? For aphid infestations in your greenhouse or home garden, consider boosting the number of local aphid-loving insects.

Ladybugs are the best-known example if you are looking to follow this approach. Ladybugs can be purchased in bulk from most gardening suppliers. In many places, ladybugs can even be purchased online and delivered straight to your doorstep. Ladybugs purchased this way come in a bag or bucket, allowing you to release them directly where they are needed.

Of course, this approach works best for greenhouses where the ladybugs will hang around. It can still work in your backyard garden if you carefully follow the instructions on the bag or bucket, releasing the ladybugs at the correct time of day. We don’t really suggest this method for indoor plants; the ladybugs will probably deal with any indoor aphid problems, but now you’ll have a new bug problem to deal with.

Other aphid predators like lacewings or hoverflies can also be attracted to your garden. To accomplish this, plant herbs like clover, mint, dill, fennel, and yarrow.

4. Place your plant outside.

If aphids have only infested your indoor plants, try taking them outdoors. Of course, we don’t suggest this approach if the outdoor weather will adversely affect your plant’s health.

If you can leave your plant in a quiet and sunny area for a few hours, then natural predators of the aphid might stop by for a quick snack. This solution might not get rid of your aphid problem completely, but it might still help to decrease their numbers and make it easier for you to remove any stragglers mechanically. This leads to our next step.

5. Physical removal.

Yes, this approach is as simple as it sounds. What more reliable way is there to get rid of aphids than to remove them with your own hands? If your plant has a heavy aphid infestation or if the aphids have spread to multiple plants, this approach can become a little tedious. For this reason, we suggest trying a less labor-intensive approach to reduce the aphids’ numbers before resorting to mechanical removal.

Try using a pair of gardening gloves or tweezers to pick any of these little pests off your plants. However, plants are fragile, of course, so don’t be too harsh.

Another way to remove aphids by hand is using an old toothbrush: gently brush and flick away any aphids on your plants.

6. Bug eating birds.

There are plenty of bug-eating birds that will visit your garden. All you have to do is extend the right invitation to get them to come on by! Nesting birds like wrens, chickadees, and titmice can be encouraged to congregate around your garden. The best way to attract these aphid-loving predators is to offer them shelter and a snack. These birds prefer nesting in small twiggy trees and shrubs. You can plant some of these plants around your garden to encourage these birds to visit.

Put up a small birdhouse or feeder specifically designed for these species as a quicker solution. Fill these feeders with seed-mixes designed for small birds like black oil sunflower seeds, pre-hulled sunflower seeds, and nut hearts.

So you now have some good ideas on how you can get rid of aphids. But what exactly is an aphid? Aphids, also called plant lice, are tiny green insects that eat the sap of trees and plants. This can cause the infected plant to become sick, and eventually die. Over 4,000 species of aphid have been identified. Between them, they are some of the most destructive pests affecting cultivated crops in North America.

Aphids have many natural enemies including ladybugs, hoverflies, parasitic wasps, crab spiders, lacewings, and insect-infecting fungi. These natural predators can serve to keep aphids in check. However, when an ecosystem is unbalanced aphids can grow unchecked.

Discovering an army of aphids on your plants can be a cause for alarm. Relax: there are plenty of solutions available to get rid of aphids from your garden and from your life. There are even steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of future aphid infestations. So give a couple a try, one might just be the solution you were looking for!

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