One of the most valuable secrets a gardener can know is how to get rid of aphids. These destructive little insects can wreak havoc on even the most carefully maintained gardens. If aphid infestation is a problem for you, read the guide below and learn how to eliminate these pesky critters.
Aphids – Know Your Enemy
Aphids are tiny pear-shaped insects, usually pale green or yellowish in colour, that feed on the new growth of plants. Plants suffering an aphid infestation will exhibit inward curling leaves and deformed shoots.
Regular inspection of your plants is essential to keep aphids at bay. It’s far easier to get rid of a few bugs than an established colony. Check under the leaves – aphids are easy to spot.
When aphids feed they secrete a sticky substance called honeydew. You may notice this on your plants as well. Did you know that ants eat honey dew? They like it so much they will protect aphids from predators and even transport the bugs to new plants!
How to Attack Aphids
There are a number of approaches you can take to defeat aphids.
If there are only a few aphids on a plant you can pick them off and squash them by hand. It’s possible, though, that you might miss a few, and as a single aphid can produce up to 80 new aphids each week you’ll soon be back to square one.
A simple and effective way of getting rid of aphids is to spray your plants with a jet of water. The water will knock the aphids off and they will generally die before they can climb back onto the plant.
For the water jet method to be effective you need to spray your plant regularly – 3 to 4 times a week – until the aphids are completely gone.
A Natural Insecticide
If you want to avoid using harsh chemicals on your precious plants try this natural insecticide on those marauding aphids.
Boil 5 large cloves of garlic and a teaspoon of cayenne pepper in a litre of water for 40 minutes. Strain it and when it is cool use a mister bottle to spray it onto your plants.
Household Aphid Remedies
Does the natural insecticide above sound a little too organic for you? Well, there are a few alternatives that will help you get rid of aphids and you probably won’t even have to leave the house for the ingredients.
Remedy 1: Make a solution of 10 ml dish washing liquid to 500 ml water and mist your plants with it. The soap will cause the aphids to dehydrate and die.
Remedy 2: Mix one cup of any type of vegetable oil with 3 cups of warm water and add half a teaspoon of dish washing liquid. Spray using a mister bottle. The oil will clog the aphids’ pores and suffocate them.
Remedy 3: Rub straight vegetable oil onto the affected parts of the plant.
You can put mother nature to work for you by encouraging ladybirds and lacewings to make your garden their home. Some garden stores actually sell these helpful insects. Both of them feed on aphids and will help destroy those bugs before they can become a problem.
You can get rid of aphids that have colonised just one or two areas of a plant by pruning away those areas. Dispose of the infected foliage by burning if possible.
A Chemical Approach
If the methods of attacking aphids above don’t work for you, you can always try a more traditional approach. Garden stores sell insect growth regulators (IGR), pyrethrins-based products and insecticidal oils and soaps that are all designed to decimate aphid colonies.
Perseverance Pays Off
By using one or more of the approaches outlined above, and by repeating it a number of times, you’ll be well on the way to solving the problem of how to get rid of aphids.
To learn more about getting rid of aphids check out this video.