We all know aphids are harmful to our gardens because they suck nutrients from plants causing a big problem. Here’s how to naturally get rid of them in your garden.
What You'll Learn
What are aphids?
The aphid is an insect part of the order Hemiptera and the superfamily Aphidoidea. The aphids suck plant sap using a stylet or a piercing mouthpart. The aphid feeds on the phloem of host plants, which is the sieve tube. The aphids can be found on many plant species and can complete their lifecycle within a few days. The aphids have a rigid, black cuticle protecting the soft, greyish-white body. Their color varies from white to black, and they are most commonly yellow, orange, or green. Most aphids are green and have a body length of 1–4 mm (0.04-0.16 in). There are 1,000 variants of aphids, living worldwide.
The aphids are known to transmit viral diseases to plants, such as the Potato aphid, Myzus persicae (Sulzer), and the Black bean aphid, to name a few. The potato aphid is one of the most serious pests of the world’s most important staple food crop, the potato. Aphids are known to transmit Potyviruses such as Potato virus Y. This virus attacks the plant’s roots and prevents water and nutrients from reaching the rest of the plant.
Where do Aphids Come From?
Aphids come from two primary sources: the aphid colony in your backyard and the host plants they feed off of in your home. Their natural habitat is the soil surrounding their host plants. Still, they can live and multiply in many other environments, including greenhouses, water, and your home.
They originate from soil or water. However, these pests spread from plant to plant in a process known as vectoring. Some species of aphids are vectored through the air, while others travel on other insects, birds, or people.
What Vegetables do Aphids eat?
Aphids consume many different plants, including herbs, flowers, vegetables, and fruits. These pests usually infest young leaves and can cause damage by sucking the juice from plants. In many cases, an infected plant will not produce fruit or flower.
Aphids prefer to feed on a wide variety of leafy vegetables, including spinach, broccoli, lettuce, kale, and cabbage. They also like peppers and tomatoes and can even munch on cauliflower, peas, and potatoes.
8 Best and Proven Methods to Get Rid of Aphids in Organic Garden
1# Remove Them Manually
At the beginning of the aphid attack, you can tear off the leaves or buds on which the initial colonies are forming. It would be best if you burned them to prevent further spreading. If several leaves are infected, you can wash them with a wet cloth. Washing will be more efficient if you moisten the cloth with soap.
After soap treatment, rinse the veggies with clean water. You will need to repeat the washing treatment every night for one to two weeks. In any case, adjust the number of treatments to the severity of the infestation. It is necessary to monitor their number by regularly inspecting the undersides of leaves.
2# Try Essential Oils
To obtain natural insecticides, you can use many essential oils. You can prepare them yourself from rosemary oil, neem oil, clove, orange, lavender, and many other oils.
Before application, they are diluted with water and should never be applied directly to the vegetable. Aphids do not tolerate the odors of various plant species. You can use this knowledge to drive them out of your garden.
- In one gallon of warm water, add a tablespoon of liquid soap and stir. Slowly add 0.3 us fl oz of desired essential oil
You should prepare and apply this remedy when it is fresh immediately when cool down, best early in the morning or late in the evening once every 20 days.
Don’t expect miracles – neem oil is not an instant insecticide, which means you will not find dead parasites immediately after spraying around the plants. It acts as a systemic insecticide at the hormonal level for several days.
3# Soapy water can help
Soapy water can be adequate with some aphid species. If you apply this method to vegetables, use soaps made from ecological ingredients. Dissolve five ounces of soap in 1 gallon of water, but if you have liquid soap, mix four tablespoons for 1 gallon. You should use this solution every 2 to 3 days for two weeks.
4# Garlic spray
Garlic spray is powerful but useful for vegetable aphid treatment. To make one yourself, follow these steps:
- Squeeze four garlic cloves and add four tablespoons of liquid paraffin mineral oil
- Leave to stand for 24 hours, then strain and pour half a gallon of water
- Add two tablespoons of dish detergent to it
- Keep and store prepared solution in a dark place
- When spraying the plants, take three tablespoons of this solution and mix with half a gallon of water
If the solution seems too strong for the plant, dilute it with more water. First, you will need to check on a couple of leaves. If the leaves don’t turn yellow, it’s good, but it’s too strong if they start to turn yellow, and you need to dilute it a little more with water.
Garlic contains substances that act as an insecticide, and dish detergent will destroy the surface layer of aphids that will die from dehydration. The unpleasant smell of garlic disappears very quickly after spraying.
5# Vinegar as a biopesticide
When sprayed on infected plants, the vinegar contains acetic acid, which will kill aphids. Because it is a biopesticide (not chemically treated), vinegar is a safer natural alternative to pests than chemical pesticides.
However, vinegar acts as an herbicide and can damage your plants. It would be best if you dilute the vinegar with distilled water.
- To prepare a half-gallon of this solution, mix 1.5 cups (US) of vinegar with 3.5 cups of distilled water
- Spray the infested plants and repeat this treatment after a week to eliminate the remaining pests
6# Nettle – Pest Repellent and Fertilizer
Many gardeners use nettle as a pest repellent and organic fertilizer simultaneously. However, this study show this method is only effective on red currant aphid.
You can use this method effectively if you grow currants or fruits next to your vegetables.
- In 2 gallons of water, preferably rainwater, soak 2.5 pounds of fresh, chopped nettle leaves. Harvest nettle before flowering while still young because it is the strongest then.
- Leave covered for 24 hours in plastic or wooden barrels, don’t use metal barrels. Many sources say that liquid won’t work if you keep it for a more extended time. Still, from our experience, it will work well even if you leave it to overwinter.
Strain and spray the infested garden plants with the liquid every 3 to 5 days.
7# Companion and trap plants
Many plant species are our allies in the fight against aphids and can be divided into two groups:
- Attracting plants – these plants attract aphids and thus reduce damage to cultivated plants: Atriplex hortensis or mountain spinach, beans, gladiolus, marigolds, nasturtiums, and sunflowers. You can plant these plants around cultivated crops to protect them in this way. Infested plants are removed from the garden or treated with various preparations.
- Repellent plants – their scent repels pests: coriander, calendula, garlic, red onion, and lavender. Plant these along the edges of the funnel, with cultivated plants, between the rows.
8# Organic Products and Sprays
Organic pesticides are used to control pests and are made from non-toxic compounds. They are derived from natural sources and are considered safe for humans and the garden environment. These products are free from pesticides, herbicides, and other chemicals. All organic products are tested for safety before going to market.
Organic insecticides are safer to use on your plants than chemical pesticides and are often less expensive. Numerous organic products control aphids, like organic neem oil preparation in spray and insecticidal soap.
You can use these methods to naturally control aphids without chemical pesticides. The most effective way to get rid of aphids is to use a combination of very effective natural remedies. You need to spend more time on preparation but keep in mind that it is worth it.
Protect birds, bees and beneficial insects. And if you hate to prepare liquids and spray the plants, leave them at the mercy of ladybugs, aphid predators. The population of beneficial insects can establish control over aphids very soon after the plant’s bloom. If some leaves dry out, it’s not scary. Don’t strive for gardening perfection because that means applying chemistry and death for many beneficial organisms.