Here are our best tips on how to identify and control aphids in the garden.
What are Aphids?
Aphids seem to find their way into every garden. They are small, soft-bodied insects that can survive in almost any zone. Although they tend to move rather slowly, most species are winged. The good news is that they are relatively easy to get rid of. They feed on plant’s juices and don’t discriminate—they will go from roses to cabbage. Aphids multiply quickly, so try to control before reproduction starts. Many generations can occur in one season.
Aphids are tiny, often invisible to the naked eye depending on what color they are (white, black, yellow, light green, even pink!). The best way to determine whether you have aphids is to look for evidence:
- Look for misshapen, curling, or yellow leaves. Be sure to check the undersides of leaves, aphids love to hide there.
- If the leaves are covered with a sticky substance, that is a sign that aphids may have been nibbling.
- Their secretions may cause fungal bacteria on your plants, and also attract other pests.
How to Get Rid of Aphids
- Try spraying cold water on the leaves, sometimes all aphids need is a cool blast to dislodge them.
- Use commercially available biological controls or by spraying with insecticidal soap or horticultural oil.
- You can often get rid of aphids by wiping or spraying the leaves of the plant with a mild solution of water and a few drops of dishwashing detergent such as Ivory.
- Stir together 1 quart of water, 1 tsp of liquid dish soap and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Do not dilute before spraying on plants.
- In a spray bottle combine 2 parts rubbing alcohol, 5 parts water, and 1 tablespoon liquid soap.
- Organic controls include alcohol spray (isopropyl alcohol, straight or diluted), soapy emulsion (can be mixed w/alcohol), horticultural oil (read the directions) and pyrethrum spray. Soapy water/alcohol should be reapplied every 2-3 days for 2 weeks.
- You can also purchase beneficial insects, such as lady beetles and parasitic wasps, which will feed on aphids. These are usually ordered via mail—check the Internet for labs.
- Bring beneficial insects to your garden by adding plants that attract them. For example, nasturtiums are a good plant to rid your garden of aphids.