Eliminate Aphids

Aphids are sneaky and inconspicuous little beasties. They can show up, breed like crazy and completely destroy your flowers, vegetables and even trees before you ever know there’s a problem. There are many species and colors of aphids. They come in shades of green, red, brown, black and yellow and almost all have fat little pear shaped bodies with several little tubes poking up out of the back end called cornicles. They feed by piercing plants and sucking their juices. In doing so they can transmit viruses that cause yellowing, curling and distort growth. Aphids also secrete a sticky substance called honeydew that often results in the colonization of an ugly sooty black fungus. The following are suggestions to help keep your gardens and plants safe and healthy.

Frequent Inspection

Catch them early. One “colonizer” can produce up to 80 offspring in as little as a week and is capable of doing so several times.  Slowly walk through your garden several times a week paying close attention to the underside of leaves.  Also check for aphids on newly purchased plants and transplants.

Don’t Over Fertilize

Aphids prefer the new growth that is found in abundance in overly fertilized plants. Use only slow release fertilizers. It is also a good idea to grow plants inside or under a cover until they are large enough to be a little more tolerant.

Spray with Water

A strong spray of water is an effective way to dislodge aphids from your plants. Most dislodged aphids will be unable to return to the plant.  The Bug Blaster is a hose attachment that works great for this.

Home Remedy for Aphids

You can kill aphids by spraying, especially under the leaves, with a solution of 2 tsp mild dish or laundry soap to a bottle of luke warm water. The soap washes off the aphid’s protective waxy coating and causes dehydration. You can also mix three parts luke warm water to one part vegetable or horticultural oil and a couple drops of dish soap. This mixture can be sprayed on to clog the respiratory spiracles of aphids.  Spray once a week taking turns between solutions.  If using these solutions on food plants, be sure to wash them before eating. If using the oil solution, don’t spray on very hot and sunny days as the oil can magnify the sun and possibly harm the plant.

Insecticidial Soaps

Click here for more about Insecticidial Soap
If you want to use something a little less harsh for controlling aphids, you may wish to look into insecticidal soaps and oils such as Safer Insecticidal Soap, Bon-neem Insecticidal Soap or any horticultural oil. These products are sprayed directly onto plants and aphids and work by trapping and suffocating, washing away the aphid’s protective waxy coating or by altering the permeability and structure of the cell membranes. This can cause the contents of cells to leak out, dehydrating the aphid.  Pyretherins are another type of aphid treatment that are commonly found in sprays. Pyretherins are an extract of the chrysanthemum flower. Synthetic and equally effective forms are called pyrethroids. The brand Safer uses these in there insecticidal soaps. Bonide, Schultz and Pyola are other good brands.  So, now you know how to get rid of aphids.