Whether you are an experienced gardener or you’re just getting started, you likely already know about aphids. These tiny insects reproduce rapidly and feed on all kinds of plantlife. They can wreak havoc to your garden and often require consistent control and monitoring to keep them from destroying garden plants altogether.
Are you wondering how to get rid of aphids? Then this is the article for you. Join us as we learn more about these annoying garden pests and discover the different methods you can use to get rid of them and prevent them from returning.
What Are Aphids?
Aphids are rapid reproducers who can produce many different generations in one season.
Aphids are small insects who typically don’t grow any larger than 1/4th of an inch in length. They range in color and can be yellow, green, brown, grey, black, pink and white.
If you’re wondering how to get rid of aphids, you should know what they look like, even if they’re hard to see. Up close, aphids look almost like small grasshoppers.
Aphids have long antennae, curved back legs, and two tubes on their back ends which are called cronicles. Most adult aphids do not have wings, though they are known to develop wings if their food source becomes overcrowded and they need to leave to begin a new colony elsewhere.
Otherwise, aphids generally stick to the same food source and will not travel too far from it. If they are knocked off or fall off their food source, however, they tend to have a terrible sense of direction and often need to find food elsewhere.
There are numerous species of aphids found across North America, and they are a common garden pest known to feed on a variety of plant life. While one or two aphids won’t cause too much damage, in large colonies aphids can destroy your garden and stunt or prevent newly growing vegetation and crops.
Most active in spring, aphids prefer new plant growth and are especially fond of buds. They target a number of plants and parts of plants like flowers, fruits, stems and roots, but some species of aphids prefer specific vegetation like potatoes, cabbage, melons, apples, beans, peaches, and more.
Aphids reproduce quite rapidly, with female aphids laying between 50 to 100 eggs in her lifetime. That’s around five offspring a day! More interestingly, some aphids are able to reproduce by parthenogenesis, meaning they don’t need their eggs to be fertilized and can bypass the egg stage altogether, giving birth to live female nymphs.
When aphids do lay eggs, they are generally laid on leaves. The eggs can be dormant over winter and then hatch in spring, where it takes nymphs about a week to reach maturity. Once mature, they reproduce all over again. Since these insects are such prolific breeders and mature at such a fast pace, there are often many generations of aphids produced in a single season.
The below video further discusses the interesting life cycle and reproduction stage of aphids.
Though aphids do reproduce quickly, they have a short lifespan, with some adult species living only as long as a week while others can live up to 40 days.
Still, even in that short span of time, they can cause serious damage. So, why do you have aphids and how can you get rid of them?
Let’s find out.
What Has Attracted Aphids To Your Garden?
Over-watering your garden can attract more aphids.
Aphids target vegetation because they feed on plant juices and sap. No matter where you live in North America, if you have a garden then you likely have aphids. That said, there are a few things you may be doing that are attracting more aphids to your garden than usual.
If you’re planting a lot of new plants or have new growth popping up your garden, you’re providing a smorgasbord for aphids of all their favorite meals. During this time, it’s best to monitor your new plants and use the methods we’ll discuss below to control and get rid of aphids.
But why else could you have so many aphids in your garden than usual this spring? Gardens that are over-watered and over-fertilized can also make garden plants more enticing to aphids.
Furthermore, there are a few types of plants that are highly attractive to aphids, like nasturtium and mustard plants. However, planting these types of plants in your garden may not be a bad thing, as they can instead attract aphids and keep them on those plants and away from your other ornamental plants and vegetation.
Of course, these are only a few reasons you may have more aphids in your garden than usual. Weather conditions could play a part in the aphid population as well as a lack of natural predators in your garden like ladybugs or lacewing bugs.
That being said, keep in mind that a number of pests and problems can cause a deterioration of plantlife. Before you work on methods for how to get rid of aphids, let’s first make sure you have an aphid problem.
How To Get Rid Of Aphids – Identifying An Aphid Problem
This photo shows damage done to a leaf by an aphid problem and a predatory Asian lady beetle who was likely attracted by an aphid infestation.
Aphids are a common garden pest, but they are not the worst of garden pests and may not be to blame for your garden issues. Are you sure you are dealing with aphids? Before you choose your methods for how to get rid of aphids in particular, let’s take a look at a few telltale signs that aphids are the insects plaguing you.
You probably have aphids in your garden if you:
- Physically See Aphids In Large Groups
Though aphids are extremely small and sometimes difficult to see with the naked eye, they often feed together in large colonies that are easy to spot if you take a look. Examine your plants closely, paying special attention to leaves, stems, and roots.
Look beneath leaves as well and watch for clusters of small insects. Remember, aphids can be several different colors depending on their species, and while nymphs are generally smaller than adults, they do not grow larger than 1/4th of an inch long.
- Notice Damaged Leaves
Aphids cause damage to leaves and plant life that lead to misshapen or discolored growth. If your plants have curled leaves, leaves that are yellowish, stunted, or otherwise abnormal, you likely have aphids.
- Find Leaves and Stems That Are Covered in Something Sticky
Honeydew isn’t just the name of a tasty melon. It’s also the name of aphid waste, and this waste is a sticky substance that is a result of the aphid’s diet. In a large aphid infestation, plants can be covered in this sticky substance. Honeydew can also attract other insects like ants and pests who are attracted to sweet, sugary substances.
- Find “Sooty Mold” On Your Plants
Honeydew as a result of aphid waste can encourage a fungal growth on plants that is called sooty mold. As its name suggests, sooty mold is thick and black, and can grow on plants and make them look as if they are covered in soot.
- Notice Deformed Flowers and Fruits
If your flowers or fruits are growing but are not looking quite right, you probably have aphids. When aphids feed on young plants, this can result in the plants growing up to be deformred or distorted.
- Discover Galls On Roots and Leaves
Galls are a structure made on plants by different types of insects, including aphids. Galls are often created as a type of habitat for aphids to live in or have offspring inside. These structures can look almost as if they are part of the plant themselves, or can appear web-like.
- Notice An Abundance of Other Insects You Did Not Introduce Into Your Garden
Many people purposefully introduced predatory insects like ladybugs to help control aphids. However, if you notice a large number of predator insects like ladybugs or Asian lady beetles who feed on aphids that you did not introduce to control these pests, then you’re likely dealing with those pesky, sap-sucking bugs.
Another sign of aphids is a large number of sugar ants. Ants and other pests can be attracted to the honeydew that aphids secret in their waste, as we mentioned above.
- Sick or Dying Plants
Aphids are known to transmit viruses from plant to plant, which can result in serious destruction of gardens if not controlled and taken care of early on. In fact, it takes less than one minute for an aphid to feed on a plant and transmit a virus.
If you notice plants dying in your garden and have also noticed any of the above signs of aphid activity, it is time to look into how to get rid of aphids.
How To Get Rid Of Aphids – Most Popular Methods
Aphids are generally easy to control and get rid of using the proper methods.
While aphids can cause quite a bit of damage if they go unchecked, the good news is that they are also slow moving insects who are generally easy to control and monitor so long as you are vigilant and stay on top of them.
Furthermore, there are a few different methods gardeners can use to get rid of aphids depending on their particular needs, the types of gardening they enjoy doing, and the severity of their aphid infestation. The most common forms of aphid control include the use of natural products, home remedies, insecticides, and professional pest control help.
How To Get Rid Of Aphids Using Natural Products
Aphids are sensitive insects who can be controlled using plenty of natural products that don’t contain harsh ingredients like insecticides or other strong chemicals. Most natural products use ingredients that are safe for people, pets and the environment. This is important, as aphids are garden pests who often feed on edible plants like fruits and vegetables.
How To Get Rid Of Aphids Using Home Remedies
If you enjoy organic gardening or would even prefer to learn how to get rid of aphids using do it yourself pest control, learning a few home remedies to get rid of aphids on your own is great fun. You can use a number of home remedies and ingredients like essential oils and even dish soap to help monitor and control aphids in your garden.
How To Get Rid Of Aphids Using Insecticides
When working on how to get rid of aphids, it’s important to keep in mind that very large aphid infestations may require more intensive treatments that include insecticides. There are insecticides that can be used on gardens that will not harm plants, but keep in mind that many insecticides can use harsh chemical ingredients that are harmful to people, pets and the environment and should therefore be used only as directed and with caution.
How To Get Rid Of Aphids Using Professionals
If you figure out how to get rid of aphids early on, you probably won’t need to contact a professional pest control expert for help. That said, sometimes a large aphid infestation can lead to other problematic insects in your garden. These infestations can quickly get out of control and lead to other issues.
If you are repeatedly dealing with an aphid infestation each season and it continually leads to other, more serious insect infestations in and around your garden, it may be time to contact the professionals.
But before you give up and contact the pros, let’s go over how to get rid of aphids using some of our favorite products.
How To Get Rid Of Aphids Using Natural Products
Natural products and repellents use ingredients that are safe for children and pets.
Aphids are certainly annoying and can be destructive, but the good news is that they are not as difficult to get rid of as you may think. Best of all, there are plenty of natural repellents and products you can use to get rid of aphids on your own that don’t require the use of any harsh chemicals or ingredients.
Using natural repellents for how to get rid of aphids is ideal for anyone who is passionate about organic gardening or for those with children or pets in the home.
Are you curious about which types of natural products would be best for how to get rid of aphids? We have listed some of our favorite natural pest control products for you to consider below.
GrowSafe Non-Toxic Bio Insecticide
The product above is ideal for those looking for a natural method for how to get rid of aphids. GrowSafe provides a concentrated oil that works specifically on soft-bodied insects like aphids, spider mites, clover mites, and more to control and eliminate infestations without harming garden plants.
GrowSafe can be used on a multitude of plants including ornamental plants, houseplants, and edible plants like fruits and vegetables.
The product comes concentrated and is designed to be mixed with water. You can order it in four different sizes and it works using natural ingredients like corn oil, soybean oil, citrus oil, sunflower oil, and other natural oils and ingredients.
Natria Organic Insecticidal Soap
We like Natria as an organic gardening tool for how to get rid of aphids because it uses natural ingredients like an insecticidal soap that are safe for people, pets and the environment. Furthermore, this spray is specifically designed to kill and control aphids, mites, white flies, mealybugs, and more.
It works by killing pests on contact in minutes when and can help prevent future infestations from breaking out when used correctly. Best of all, you can use this spray on a variety of vegetation including ornamental flowers, houseplants, fruits, vegetables, and more.
Natura Neem Oil Pest Control
This is another natural product by Natura for how to get rid of aphids that contains neem oil. Neem oil is a natural repellent and deterrent for many pests, not just aphids, and it is safe to use on plants both inside and outside of your home.
It can also help reduce diseases on plants caused by pests like aphids including mildew, blackspot and rust. It is safe for organic gardening and will not harm the environment, people, or pets.
Sticky Aphid Trap
Sticky traps may not work completely for how to get rid of aphids, but they can help monitor an aphid infestation. The above sticky trap is designed not only for how to get rid of aphids but also other pests like white flies and gnats.
You can place this trap near plants that aphids are attracted to in order to control the population and monitor how other control methods for how to get rid of aphids are going. This trap uses non-toxic glue and is safe for use in gardens with edible fruits and veggies.
Bonide Neem Oil Spray
Looking for more sprays that contain neem oil for how to get rid of aphids? We are listing Bonide Neem Oil Spray because it is a pest control product that is safe for people, pets and the environment and works against aphids, mites, flies, and other garden pests. It also helps to kill and control pests in all stages of life from eggs to nymphs to adults.
In addition, this neem oil spray works all year round and can kill dormant eggs, which is wonderful when it comes to aphids as eggs will often lay dormant over the winter only to hatch in spring.
Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth
Diatomaceous Earth is a popular insect repellent and insect killer for many people who practice organic gardening and want to know how to get rid of aphids the natural way. This dust pest control method is made of fossilized algae and works by dehydrating and killing pests who make contact with it.
While Diatomaceous Earth is safe to use both inside and outside and works for a number of plants, gardens, and garden-eating pests, it can be harmful to beneficial predators as well.
How To Get Rid Of Aphids Using Home Remedies
Ladybugs can be an attractive and effective deterrent for aphids.
Chances are, if you like organic gardening and using natural products for how to get rid of aphids, then you’ll probably be interested in learning about some home remedies you can use to control the problem as well.
One of the things we like best about using home remedies for how to get rid of aphids is that doing so saves money. Of course, home remedies for how to get rid of aphids may require a bit more time and commitment on your part, but it can be worth it in the end.
A few home remedies, ingredients and recipes you can use for how to get rid of aphids on your own at home are listed below:
Aphids can be removed by spraying your plants down when you water them with cold water and a hose. You can add extra pressure to the hose by holding your thumb over the hose head or adjusting the pressure on your hose head using an attachment.
Doing this will knock the aphids from the plants, often sending them on their way to find another food source. Remember, aphids don’t have the best sense of direction and typically will not be able to find their way back to the plant they were originally feeding on.
Introduce The Natural Predators
Ladybugs are famously known for being beneficial garden insects and are natural predators of aphids. You can introduce ladybugs by purchasing them at most garden stores or online. Of course, make sure you are introducing benfidical lady bugs and not their close cousin, the Asian lady beetle, who looks similar but can be destructive.
Other natural predators of aphids include green lacewings, parasite wasps, and different species of birds.
Wondering how to get rid of aphids using essential oils? It’s totally possible!
Aphids are sensitive and can be repelled and even killed by a number of essential oils including peppermint oil, neem oil, clove oil, rosemary oil, thyme oil, garlic oil, and citrus oil.
You can make your own essential oil spray for how to get rid of aphids by adding five to ten drops of the oil of your choice to two cups of water in a spray bottle and spraying the affected area of the plant.
That said, before you spray the plant with any essential oil sprays, make sure to do your research as some essential oils may be harmful to particular plant species.
Soap and Water Spray
Using liquid dish soap and water to spray aphids is a popular and simple method you can use for how to get rid of aphids at home. We recommend using a liquid dish soap like castile, as it does not contain any degreasers, detergents or moisturizers which can harm plants.
Drop a few drops of your liquid dish soap into two cups of water and mix it until it is sudsy. Then mix the solution into a spray bottle and spray it directly on affected plants. You can also open the bottle or use a small bowl to soak affecte leaves in the solution for a few moments to ensure you get any eggs.
How To Get Rid Of Aphids Using Insecticides
Insecticides may be needed in very large aphid infestations.
While aphids are generally easier to control than some other types of garden pests, very large aphid infestations may require the use of insecticides. That said, some insecticides commonly used to control aphids can contain harsh chemical ingredients that can be harmful to people, pets and the environment.
Furthermore, insecticides may also be harmful to beneficial insects like honey bees, ladybugs and butterflies.
However, when used correctly, insecticides can work well to control an aphid infestation. Let’s take a look at some of the top recommended insecticides experts suggest you use for how to get rid of aphids below.
Ortho 3 in 1 Insect Control
Since aphids can attract so many other types of pests to your garden and yard, you may need to use an insecticide that treats a number of nuisance insects. Ortho 3 in 1, listed above, is a product that is designed for not only how to get rid of aphids but also silverfish, caterpillars, whiteflies, ants, mites, crickets and more. It can also help reduce fungal disease caused by aphids as well as blackspot, mildew, and leaf rot.
It comes ready to use and does not need to be mixed. It is also safe to use on edible vegetation like fruits and vegetables, as well as ornamental flowers. However, this product does contain chemicals that can be harmful to people, pets and the environment so use it only as directed and keep it out of reach of children.
BioAdvanced Natural Insect Control
Another insecticide that is specifically made for how to get rid of aphids, mites, and other soft-bodied insects is a product called BioAdvanced. This spray can be applied to a number of plants to protect them from insects as well as fungus and disease carried by pests.
It is also rain-proof and, once applied, can last for up to thirty days. It works against caterpillars, Japanese beetles, leafminers, spider mites, whiteflies, and more. That said, it does contain ingredients that can be harmful to the environment and beneficial insects if not used correctly so be sure to read the directions carefully.
Ortho Max Malathion Insect Spray Concentrate
Malathion is an insecticide chemical that is effective for how to get rid of aphids when used correctly, though it is not safe to use indoors and should only be used outside as directed. Apply it to your garden plants as needed for how to get rid of aphids, mealybugs, mites, and more.
This insecticide is safe to use on edible plants and ornamental flowers, and should be kept out of reach of children and pets.
Bonide Pyrethrin Garden Spray
Any insecticide that contains pyrethrin is going to work quickly and effectively to kill and control aphids, leafhoppers, webworms, beetles, ants, and more. Pyrethrin is an insecticide derived from flowers like chrysanthemums, and while it is technically a naturally occurring chemical, it is a chemical that can be harmful to people, pets and the environment if not used as directed.
The order above comes concentrated and should be mixed with water as directed and then applied to your garden to protect against garden pests like aphids.
Tips On Preventing A Future Aphid Infestation In Your Garden
Prevent future aphid infestations by practicing routine garden and yard care.
Since aphids are so common and reproduce so rapidly, it may be difficult to keep them out of your garden altogether. With that being said, you can implement some preventative strategies to help control an aphid population and keep them from becoming an overwhelming problem.
A few ways you can monitor and control future aphids in your garden include methods listed below:
Aphids may be attracted to a number of different plant species, but they are also just as equally repelled by certain plants. You can use both types of plants to your advantage by implementing companion planting throughout your garden.
Use plants aphids are attracted to like mustard and nasturtium as trap plants to attract aphids and keep them away from your garden plants like roses, peas, and cabbage. However, you are not providing trap plants to aphids for them to enjoy. You should check these plants regularly and treat them to get rid of the aphids before they jump to other plants in your garden.
You can also plant repellent plants like catnip, garlic, and chives to protect plants like roses, peas, lettuce and more.
Encourage The Predators
Ladybugs, lacewings, and birds may fly off once introduced to your yard or garden after a few days if conditions are not ideal. In order to control aphids and keep predators around, try making sure the predators benefit from staying in your garden.
Put up birdhouses and bird seed to attract birds, and provide ladybugs you introduce with ladybug houses. Spray your garden with water to give ladybugs droplets to drink from, and make sure you are reintroducing them routinely if they fly away and the aphid population begins to spike again.
Spray Dormant Horticultural Oil On Plants During Winter
Once you have managed to figure out how to get rid of aphids, we suggest spraying down your garden and trees with a dormant horticultural oil to kill any eggs that are overwintering on your property. This will help prevent a future infestation in the spring.
Avoid Over-Fertilizing or Over-Watering Your Garden
Remember, over-watering and over-fertilizing your garden can make plantlife more enticing to aphids. Doing this can also lead to other problems in your garden and a decrease in healthy plant-life.
Only water and fertilize your garden as needed in order to control an aphid population and keep other pests from getting out of control as well.
So, what do you think? Do you have other ideas on how to get rid of aphids? We would love to hear from you. Leave us your thoughts in the comment section below.