How to Get Rid of Aphids Naturally
If you have ever grown a garden, especially a vegetable garden, you know what nuisance aphids can be.
It’s frustrating to have misshapen and blighted veggies or to turn over a leaf and find aphids coating your plants!
What do you do if you want to have organic vegetables and not resort to using any pesticides to get rid of them?
Did you know there are different species of aphids for different crops? There are melon aphids and cabbage aphids and bean aphids, to name a few.
Did you know they can grow wings if they are crowded enough. However, they don’t always grow them?
Aphids can multiply so quickly that many generations of these tiny bugs will be born and die in a single growing season.
In addition, ants contribute to the problem by “farming” aphids for the sticky residue they leave behind when they feed on the sap from your plants. It’s called honeydew and ants love it.
So if you find that your plants are sticky, you know aphids and ants have been at work.
How to Identify Aphids
You can identify aphids in several ways:
- Aphids have a long antennae and pear-shaped body.
- They are often wingless, but if there is a possibility that they will develop wings if they are overcrowded.
- Aphids suck the sap from your plants leaving them misshapen, stunted, yellowish or curling leaves.
- They often hide under leaves.
- Aphids come in all kinds of colors, green, yellow, brown, red or even black.
Read on to find out the many natural ways to rid yourself of this tiny pest.
Natural Ways to Get Rid of Aphids
Now that you’re thoroughly grossed out – or fascinated – by these aphid facts let’s talk about how you can combat them without resorting to chemicals.
There are several beneficial insects you can encourage or place in your garden to deal with your aphid problem for you.
Maybe you know about this already, but did you know you can buy ladybugs if you don’t seem to see enough? Both ladybug larvae and adults love to feed on aphids and will work to keep your garden free of them.
Yes, I know that doesn’t sound encouraging, but these little insects lay their eggs on aphids. Then the larvae eat the aphid from the inside.
Guess what these guys like? Parsley! So if you plant parsley in your garden, not only will you have great fresh seasoning for soups and savory dishes, you will be helping your aphid problem.
Green Lacewing Larvae
You can buy green lacewing larvae just like ladybugs. However, you can also plant some flowers to attract them: cosmos and zinnias will do the trick. So will goldenrod, dandelion, and Queen Anne’s lace.
Aphid Repelling Plants
Aphids do not like all plants. Some plants will confuse them, and many of these can be companion plants for the ones you want to protect
It doesn’t just repel vampires! Garlic repels aphids and other pests because of its strong scent. Not only can you plant garlic with many plants (don’t plant it with your peas and beans), you can crush garlic and mix with water and soap to spray on your plants to keep pests away.
Onions are part of the allium family, as is garlic, and therefore benefit from the same properties. The strong smell interrupts the aphids’ olfactory receptors.
Onions can be planted with brassicas – cabbage, kale, cauliflower, and broccoli. However, keep them away from peas and beans as well.
Aromatic herbs like rosemary work by attracting aphid predators. The oils released by frequent clipping can also repel aphids.
Basil is another strongly-scented herb that disrupts aphids’ sense of smell. But it also can inhibit the feeding behavior of this minute insect and acts as a deterrent. Plant basil right along with your tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, beans, and asparagus.
Beneficial insects love mint. Its oils repel aphids as well. Be careful planting mint, as it can easily take over your garden. Container planting is a good idea, as is frequent clipping.
Did you know catnip doesn’t just attract cats? It also attracts helpful insects, and the smell confuses aphids.
As mentioned above, parsley attracts predatory wasps, which can be exceedingly helpful in reducing and controlling your aphid population.
Man-made Aphid Repellent
If you are into essential oils or have a friend with some oils, several of these can be used as an effective aphid repellent.
Add only one or two drops to a spray bottle of water, as a little goes a long way! Spray your plants in the early morning or before sundown and not when rain is in the forecast.
Another way to use them is by putting a few drops in cotton balls and leaving them in your garden. Here are some of the most effective oils to use for aphids:
- Cedarwood oil
- Peppermint oil
- Neem oil
- Basil oil
- Rosemary oil
Aphid Trapping Plants
If you can combine aphid repellent plants with aphid trapping plants, you could have a winning combination. These plants work by being more delicious and exciting to the tiny insects than your other plants.
Because sunflowers are so large and strong, they can withstand aphid attacks. They are effectively be used to draw aphids away from your other plants.
Nasturtiums grow well with almost any plant, and they attract aphids to themselves rather than your vegetables. Check them frequently to remove aphid populations.
Human-made Aphid Traps
While less natural than some of the other methods, these don’t require companion planting or buying expensive essential oils. In addition, they fulfill the requirement of not using chemicals on your precious veggies!
Water is a temporary fix as aphids will eventually come back when dislodged. However, you can make them flee by spraying them with your garden sprayer.
You can make your own mix of water and soap to repel aphids or add some crushed garlic to make it extra effective. Or you can buy organic insecticidal soap.
Aphids love the color yellow. Yellow sticky traps draw them in, and they get stuck. It also works on cucumber beetles!
If you find a colony of aphids, place an inside-out banana peel nearby and wait to see what happens. The aphids will be drawn to the peel and leave your plant alone!
Bringing it Home
Aphids can be super pesky. Even, even though they are small, they can wreak havoc on your garden if left uncontrolled. However, they can be controlled organically with natural remedies.
I hope some or all of these natural remedies work for you! We would love to hear what worked best for you. Please comment below. Happy gardening!