When it comes to your garden, the last thing you want is an aphid breakout. As a general rule, many of the varied species of aphids around the world can spell disaster for your crops. By attaching to healthy leaves and sucking out the nutrient heavy sap, aphids have a devastating and often deadly effect on their hosts.
This is made worse by its ability to rapidly spread and infest once taking hold. If you find yourself battling these vile bugs, fight back with these 15 organic and natural solutions to get rid of Aphids quickly. Don’t let these greedy sap suckers get the best of your hard work in the garden.
1. Achieve the Right Balance
It may sound counter-intuitive, but when you first set out to combat an aphid infestation, it is important to recognize it may not be entirely beneficial to decimate the aphid population. This is because if no aphids are present, predatory insects will move. This leaves crop susceptible to future breakouts.
Instead, you’re sometimes better off simply controlling the aphid population. You should also avoid actions that “baby” your plants, like too much shelter or over-fertilizing. This ensures your plants are tough enough to recover from small numbers of aphids on their own.
2. Get Your Hands Dirty
When dealing with small and isolated takeovers, the solution may be as simple as plucking the invaders from your plants. This can be done wearing standard gardening gloves and using a brushing or pinching motion to remove the insects from the leaves.
Alternatively, if the aphids are localized to a few stems or branches, you can opt to cut these branches off. When you dispose of the branches, put them in water to kill the aphids, so you won’t need to worry about re-infestation.
3. Applying the Pressure
Another effective method to get rid of aphids is a stream of high pressure water, such as the jet stream of water produced by placing your finger over the opening of your garden hose. You can also achieve this effect through the use of specially designed garden hose nozzles that can be used to achieve a higher than normal water pressure.
If you choose this method, keep in mind that it may be damaging to smaller and more fragile plants, so use this method with care and consideration.
4. Naturally Repelling
In many cases, you can successfully control aphid populations through the use of natural repellents. It is important that you avoid harsh and unnatural chemical repellents, as these may produce adverse effects on your plants and the garden’s ecosystem.
Instead, produce such as onions, garlic, and tomato plant leaves are a natural aphid deterrent that will not harm your garden. These are best applied through the use of a spray that can be applied directly to the leaves of your plants.
5. Aphid Attractions
On the other side of the coin, you can use substances that attract aphids to lure them away from your plants. This method is great for controlling the aphid population while maintaining the presence of predatory animals and insects near your garden.
Simply pick an area that is a good distance away from the plants you intend to protect, and plant some of the aphid’s favorite snacks. Flowers such as asters, dahlias, cosmos, and zinnias are all great options that will keep our sap sucking friends occupied.
6. Wash up!
We’ve all heard it a thousand times from our mothers, but it’s not just our hands and health that can benefit from soap and water. With a few tablespoons of dish soap and a bucket of warm water, wash the leaves of the plants, being sure to get the backside of each leaf as well.
The effect is that the soap eats away the protective outer layer of an aphid’s body, causing it to dry out and die. Use with caution, however, as it can kill good insects along with the aphids.
7. Neem Oil to the Rescue
Another great option is the use of Neem oil. The application of this method is very similar to the soap and water method, using a diluted mixture of Neem oil and water that is sprayed onto the plants. Neem oil has a number of good uses, as it also discourages the presence of other harmful insects such as cabbage worms, ants, beetles, mealy bugs, and caterpillars. It is also effective at controlling fungus growth.
8. Crucial Essential Oils
Continuing with our theme of spray on solutions, our next natural remedy is the use of essential oils. A popular concoction of potent essential oils includes 4-5 drops of the following: clove, peppermint, rosemary, and thyme.
Dilute with a small spray bottle of water and mix together before applying to the plants. This deadly mixture is poisonous to a variety of pesky bugs, killing adults and larvae along with their eggs.
9. Suffocating Solution
Another oil option that works in a different way, but is equally effective, is white oil. The best part is that it can be easily created with just a couple of very common household goods. To make your own homemade white oil, combine approximately two cups of vegetable oil with about a half cup of soap and mix well. When you spray this mixture onto the aphids, it blocks the pores through which they normally breathe. The end result is elimination of aphids through suffocation.
10. All-Natural Insecticide Soap
Our next treatment is great for those looking for a premixed option. These solutions contain all-natural ingredients and can be found at most places that sell gardening supplies or garden pest control products.
They come in a variety of forms, so be sure to carefully read and follow the instructions of the specific product you choose to use. Pay attention to what insects the product is intended to be used against in order to avoid accidental harm to insects that have a positive effect on your garden’s ecosystem.
11. Deadly Diatomaceous Earth
Diatomaceous earth can be purchased in a food grade from that can be effectively deployed in the fight against an aphid infestation. It is to be sprinkled in its powdered form directly onto the leaves and the aphids.
It is made from the fossilized remains of marine phytoplankton and is considered to be completely safe for humans with no negative side effects. To aphids, however, it is fine enough to penetrate their protective exoskeleton. This opens them up to dehydration that leads to their death.
12. Reflection Redirection
A method that is quite effective for vegetable gardens, but not so much in a flower garden, is the use of either aluminum foil or a reflective mulch. To use this method, simply place the foil or the mulch on the ground beneath your plants and let nature do the rest.
They both work by redirecting the sun’s ultraviolet rays back into the sky. For flying insects, this effects their navigation and can cause them to change course away from your plants.
13. Elimination of an Ally
One way to get rid of aphid problem is to eliminate their body guards. When aphids are busy destroying your plants, they are also secreting a honey-like substance that is naturally attractive to ants.
In this symbiotic relationship, ants work to protect the aphids from harm by other predators. If you notice ants in the same area as the aphids, try ridding yourself of the ants first. This can be done by luring them away from the aphids with some honey traps near the infestation.
14. Healthy Competition
Another reason that aphids can survive and takeover a garden is a lack of other predatory insects. Without predatory insects to keep them in check, aphids can rapidly multiply and demolish your plants.
Introducing or assisting a beneficial insect population can help to naturally balance the aphid population. A popular choice is the ladybug, which can be easily purchased from many farm supply stores. They are attracted to things like catnip, oregano, and garlic and have an appetite for aphids.
15. King of the Sky
Control of an aphid breakout can also be done from the skies. Many common birds delight in feasting on aphids for a tasty treat. They are usually easily attracted through simple birdhouses and the offering of free food.
Allowing birds such as chickadees, wrens, and titmice to nest in the area around your garden are a great line of defense against the next outbreak. Since they prefer to nest in small and twiggy trees and shrubs, try planting abelia or hydrangeas to make them feel at home.
While an outbreak of aphids can be an absolutely devastating occurrence, there are a variety of natural and organic ways to get rid of aphids. Using any of the methods discussed in this article, you can successfully win the battle of the bugs without adverse effects to your plants. Armed with this knowledge, you can head back to the battlefield with a few tricks up your sleeve. Get out there and bring home the victory!