Never Use Chemicals Again! Here Are 2 Tried and Tested Methods for Eco-friendly Aphid Control!On July 25, 2020 by Vlad5 min read
Aphids are one of the most common bug infestations that affect gardens around the world. Left unchecked they can deal a lot of damage to your plants. Luckily there are some really effective, accessible, and easy to use organic pest control for aphids, that will help you have healthy plants without causing harm to the environment. Here are two methods to get rid of aphids in your garden, that we’ve tried and tested ourselves with great success. But, before we get started, let’s quickly go over what aphids are and how to spot if your plants are attacked by aphids.
How to identify aphids
Aphids, also referred to as greenfly or blackfly, are tiny insects that feed off the sap in living plants. You will usually find them on the back of new leaves and on the plant’s stem, although they can sometimes be hard to spot in the early stages. There are actually a lot of species of aphids, each of them attracted to different plants. Their color can range from green to brown or black and everywhere in-between and their size can go from super-tiny to about 1mm in size. Aphids almost always come in large groups, huddled together and they will quickly multiply and suffocate the plant if left unchecked.
Those nasty bugs can be found all over the world and they attack a large variety of plants from trees to shrubs, to herbs, roses, or grass. For us the most common places where we’ll find them is on our plum trees, on our mint, and on our roses.
The easiest way to spot aphid infestation is by looking at the plant’s leaves. Aphids feed of the sap in the plant, usually attacking the new growth first as this is the easiest to tap into. The leaves they attack and feed-of will start to curl towards outwards, which offers them ever-greater protection and better breeding grounds. Whenever you see leaves curled outward it’s worth checking on their underside for these tiny black or green bugs. Look carefully as the bugs are very small and their color might match the color of the plant, making them hard to notice.
Ants crawling up and down a plant are another telltale sign of aphid infestation. It seems humans are not the first species to discover ranching. Ants have been known to protect aphids and help them multiply, using them to convert the plant sap into sugars they can then eat.
Fun fact: Ants will carry aphid eggs back into their nest and store them over winter. When plants start growing again the following season, they take those eggs back out and hatch them to create new colonies for this year. This simbiosis provides ants with delicious suggars and helps aphids perpetuate their species.
Natural predators of aphids
As in most cases, nature finds a way to keep a balance. After all, the world has been around for millennia before we invented insecticides and the aphids did not take over the world, so there must be something that keeps them in check. As organic gardeners, we try not to intervene too much (or too harsh) on the ecology of our gardens. Rather than straight-up killing things we prefer to bring in other species that will help stop the spread of a particular pest.
When it comes to aphid eating animals, ladybugs take the crown. Yes, those cute looking ladybugs are actually vicious aphid killing machines. Both the adult ladybug and their larva feed of on aphids. The larva can actually eat up to a thousand aphids in just one day. So all we have to do is bring them in the mix.
Ladybugs are pretty common and if you provide them with a decent habitat they will linger around your garden. Straw mulch, stick piles, or insect hotels are great housing for the ladybugs, who need protection from the cold during the winter. Anything that has little crevices where the ladybugs can hide will work great. You can also buy or relocate ladybugs from other gardens and release them in your garden.
You must also learn to identify the ladybug larva and refrain from killing them. They look nothing like the adult bug, so most people tend to kill them not knowing what they are.
The best organic method for aphid control
Ladybugs will only do so much for controlling aphids and they are not always around. For example, ladybugs need warm weather to start reproducing, while aphids don’t. If you’re having aphid problems with indoor plants, ladybugs won’t help either and the same holds true if the infestation is already too big to handle. For these situations, you’ll have to take a more hands-on approach.
But spraying chemicals is not always an option. If your mint plant is attacked by aphids, you might be looking for an organic way to get rid of them, so that the leaves are still safe for you to eat later on. There are a lot of organic aphid control methods mentioned all over the internet, but by far the most accessible and effective is soapy water.
How do you get rid of aphids naturally? Add 1 squirt of dish soap into a half-liter bottle and spray that directly on the aphids. It’s that easy! We’ve been using this method for a few years now and it works every time. Within 24 hours 99% of the aphids are dead. You can repeat the treatment a few days later if they are not completely gone by then.
How does soapy water kill aphids? When the soap gets in contact with the bug’s shell it dissolves the protective layer that coats the bug. Without this fat protective layer on the shell, the bug cannot retain water and it will dry from the inside out.
I hope this will help you keep your garden aphid-free and chemical-free! Feel free to ask any questions down below!
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Hello and welcome!
We (Vlad & Greti) are building a home on a homestead in a rural area of Romania in Western Europe and sharing our story as two passionate gardeners who ditched the city for a simpler, better life.