Aphid Control | Preventing and Getting Rid of Aphids

Learn more about how to identify aphids on plants, natural aphid control, and how to get rid of aphids once they have arrived.

By Shelley Wigglesworth

Jan 09 2017

aphid control

Follow these aphid control tips before they infect your garden to prevent the loss of plants.

Photo Credit : Brenda Darroch
Aphid control is an essential part of both indoor and outdoor gardening, and taking preventative measures to control aphids before the growing season is always a good idea. Learn more about how to identify aphids, natural aphid control, and tips for getting rid of aphids once they have arrived.
aphid control
Follow these aphid control tips before they infect your garden to prevent the loss of plants.
Photo Credit : Brenda Darroch
Early and prompt treatment of any signs of a pending aphid attack is the most effective way to control these tiny insects before they can do a lot of damage in the garden. How much damage can aphids on plants do? Not only do they destroy the plants that they feast on, but they can also spread plant disease.

What are Aphids?

Aphids are tiny, soft-bodied insects that suck the sap from the stems, leaves, flowers, and sometimes even the roots of plants. They reproduce and multiply quickly — several times in a growing season in some cases, making it easy for an aphid infestation to occur.

How to Identify Aphids

Part of aphid control is learning how to spot the little buggers in the first place. Some aphid species are very small, so they may not be noticeable right away. Signs that indicate the presence of aphids include a sticky substance coating plant stems, and leaves that are curling, brown, or decaying. Look under individual leaves, as the insects tend to hide there. You may see eggs on the stem or leaf as well. These look like small dots of pepper and can vary in color. The moment you see any of these signs it’s time to act — get rid of the aphids before they get out of control.

Natural Aphid Prevention

Whenever possible, grow plants and flowers that attract aphid predators and/or ward them off with their scent. Planting herbs such asmint and dill weed will attract ladybugs, which eat aphids. Plants in the onion and garlic family emit odors that aphids avoid. Zinnia, cosmos, mums, aster, and hollyhock are a few flowers that are said to deter aphids. And let the dandelions grow! Not only are they good for the bees and pollination, they also attract ladybugs. SEE MORE: What Do Ladybugs Eat? | All About Ladybugs As natural predators, birds and insects are an effective natural combination for aphid control. Ladybugs may be innately attracted to gardens containing the flowers and plants listed above, but they may also be purchased in bulk commercially (ask a trusted local greenhouse for recommendations). Chickadees and other bird species have been known to eat aphids as well. Place birdhouses on your property to lure nesting birds in the spring and to keep them coming back season after season. They’ll feast on aphids and, as a bonus, birds in the garden are a joy to listen to and watch.

Getting Rid of Aphids

Manual Aphid Control

Getting rid of aphids can be tough, but not impossible. Whenever possible, remove and kill aphids with your hands — gloved or bare — as soon as you notice them on your plants. If there’s a section of a plant that’s heavy with aphids, cut that section off and drop it in warm or hot soapy water to kill the aphids. Be sure to also remove any portions of plants that show signs of aphid damage to avoid the risk of spreading plant diseases.

Spray Aphid Control

Need to know how to kill aphids when manual removal has proven ineffective? Use an aphid spray. Hosing off the plants with a blast of cold water can temporarily remove aphids. Organic aphid control sprays are available at garden supply centers. Be sure to follow directions on the bottle if you purchase an aphid spray.

Aphid Home Remedy

There are many homemade remedies for aphid control. To make a homemade aphid spray, try mixing 1 quart of warm water with one 1 teaspoon of liquid dish soap (NOT dishwasher detergent) and mist plants lightly. Leave the spray on the plants for 10-15 minutes and then rinse it off with hose water. Do you have any aphid control tips? Let us know in the comments! This post was first published in 2014 and has been updated. 

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