Whether you’re growing indoors or outdoors, pests are a constant concern for gardeners. One of the most common pests, and some I just found in my garden, are aphids. These little suckers can quickly ruin a garden and kill off plants. Today I wanted to look at how to get rid of aphids, as well as looking at exactly what they are and why they are dangerous to plants.
What are Aphids
Aphids are typically little green bugs that appear on plants. While they are more often green, they can be a variety of other colors. The commonality between them is they will be small. They are more likely to appear outdoors, but can be brought indoors and are actually one of the more common pests indoor gardeners deal with.
Due to their size and color, they can be very difficult to see. They blend in very easily and can go unnoticed for long periods of time. I’d suggest looking over your plant’s leaves every few days and make sure to check closely. Keep in mind they will often start off on the underside of the leaves, so always look here or you could miss them.
Aphids are a problem as they will gradually suck the liquids out of the plant they infest. This will weaken the plant, and eventually kill it if left unchecked.
The other problem is that aphids reproduce exceedingly quickly. In single season they can go through multiple generations, which equals lots of bugs. Even worse, as they drain the nutrients from their initial plant they will look to move to others nearby. This is why it’s important to deal with an aphid threat early or your whole garden could quickly become infested.
What To Look For
Obviously, the best indication of aphids is to physically see them. Here’s a picture from my garden of aphids on the underside of some leaves.
These aphids have probably been here for a while as you can see there are quite a bit of them.
Other signs are general plant distress such as droopy or yellow leaves, or even holes. These aren’t exclusive to aphids, but always mean there is some type of problem.
Aphids will also secrete a sugary, sticky liquid called honeydew. This will coat the leaves of the plant, and will be slightly sticky to touch. Due to the sugar, it will also attract other insects like ants to the plant.
Any of these signs usually mean you have a bug problem, and oftentimes that is aphids. Now that we know what to look for let’s tackle the important step of getting rid of them.
Getting Rid Of Aphids
There are a lot of different takes on getting rid of aphids so we’ll look at a few of the most effective. All of these are all natural, so we won’t be using any harsh and dangerous chemicals.
One of the most versatile bug repellents, neem oil is a great way to get rid of aphids. It’s a naturally occurring insecticide but very effective at getting an infestation under control. It’s also shown to have some repellent properties, so you can preemptively spray it on plants to prevent bugs from targeting it in the first place.
Neem oil is available from a wide variety of retailers fairly cheaply. Here’s a bottle I found on Amazon for only $10.
Another popular method is simply to mix dish soap with water. You can do this with regular dish soap, but make sure to get pure dish soap. Many with added fragrances or degreasers can potentially be harmful to plants.
To make it, simply mix about a tablespoon of soap to 1 quart of water. Scale this up for however much soap you want to make.
Before you go crazy spraying, spot test the mixture on a small part of the plant and wait 24 hours. This just ensures that the plant isn’t negatively affected by the soap. You’ll also want to make sure your plant is well watered to help it deal with the added stress of having soap all over it. Once you’re comfortable that the soap won’t harm your plants give it a good dousing wherever the bugs are and within a few days they should be gone. If not, you can repeat as needed.
Garlic and Chives
Not a way to remove them, but garlic and chives grown in close proximity to other plants have been shown to ward away certain bugs including aphids. Ther strong scents of these plants is a big turn off for many bugs, and can help prevent problems before they start.
A quick word of caution though, these two plants (chives especially) have the tendency to grow like weeds. If you don’t properly separate them from your other plants they are likely to grow out of control and take over.
How To Get Rid Of Aphids
While aphids are a common garden pest they are not difficult to remove. Hopefully the above can help you deal with them if they’re in your garden. If there’s another method you like to use to keep aphids at bay let us know and we’ll update the article to help others!