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How to Get Rid Of Aphids

How to Get Rid Of Aphids (Aphidoidea) from your plants

Learn how to get rid of Aphids (Aphidoidea) before they devour your garden. 

Other names for these common garden pests are plant lice, greenfly and blackfly.

Large masses swarm your plants, overwhelming and eventually killing them. So watch for the signs and treat them as soon as possible.

What are Aphids?

What are Aphids?

They are soft body, sap-sucking insects that will leave your plants weak and prone to disease. There are many different species (around 600 in Canada) all varying in colour from green to black, grey, yellow and more.

They are very tiny insects that will devour your plant's roots, leaves, stems and flowers.

These sap-sucking garden pests will also pass along viruses to other plants in your garden.

Aphids have a very fast reproduction rate and are sometimes born pregnant. They can produce several generations in one growing season.

If you have these common garden pests it’s a great indicator of an unbalanced fertility and most commonly is an excess of nitrogen.

If you're not sure if it’s aphids attacking your garden, look for these signs:

  • Curling, damages or yellow leaves
  • Deformed flowers and fruit
  • A sticky substance called Honeydew is left on leaves and stems and can drop on anything below it 
  • Honeydew is a sweet sap that makes the leaves sticky and shinny and will attracts ants, flies, and wasps
  • Black branches and leaves can be caused from the Honeydew which develops into a sooty mold

Ants and Aphids are usually seen together.

Ants and Aphids on the stem of a plant

Ants are attracted to the honeydew and will protect the aphids from beneficial insects.

You will need to get rid of the ants so that beneficial insects can do their job to destroy the aphids.

How to Get Rid of Aphids

Here are some organic aphid control methods that you can use around your yard: including using an Aphid killer like ladybugs.

Aphid killer
  • Rub the leaves and stems with your fingers – because they have soft bodies, just rubbing them will kill these pests and scare away any that you miss
  • Blast the leaves with water – spraying the top and underside of the leaves will knock them off the plant and they won’t return
  • Insecticidal soap – mix a small amount of Dawn dish detergent with water and apply it to the plant with a sponge or spray bottle.
  • Applying Neem oil with a pump sprayer will help get rid of Aphids.
  • Homemade aphid control; mix 1/3 white vinegar and 2/3 water and spray any where you see these insects
  • Place pieces of banana peel on the ground; they don’t like the gases that come from the peeling
  • Sprinkle some flour on the leaves. This will cause constipation and therefore killing them
  • Sprinkle calcium around the base of your plants
  • Release an Aphid killer (ladybug, green lacewing) into your garden on infected perennials and shrubs
  • Place a piece of aluminum foil around base of plants causing light to bounce around on the underside of leaves repelling these pests
  • Using a yellow plastic cup covered in Vaseline and placing it in the garden will also work to trap Aphids.

Aphid Trap

Aphid trap

You can also buy an aphid trap to help control them. 

They are a yellow (Aphids favourite colour) strip of two sided tape that attract Aphids, gnats and whiteflies. 

They do not attract beneficial insects so they seem like a good product if you need them.

You can buy them at Home hardware, Canadian Tire, Home Depot, Wal-Mart also carries them or you can buy them online at Amazon.

Growing healthy and happy plants will also help keep common garden pests away.

Steps to Preventing Garden Pests

Exam your plants often during the growing season to make sure they are Aphid free.

Large masses can form very quickly and take over your plants.

Feed your plants with a low nitrogen fertilizer as the nitrogen is what attracts Aphids.

Nasturtium plant will repel AphidsNasturtium plant

List of Beneficial Insects to Get Rid of Aphids

  • Syrphid, Flower, or Hover Flies 
  • Parasitic wasps
  • Ladybeetles, Ladybugs, or Ladybird Beetles 
  • Praying mantis
  • Spiders
  • Assassin bugs
  • Aphid wasps
  • Aphid Midges
  • Predaceous Midges
  • Braconid Wasps
  • Damsel Bugs
  • Green Lacewings
  • Minute Pirate Bugs
  • Soldier Beetles
  • Soft-winged Flower Beetle or Collops Beetle 
  • Damsel Bugs
  • Big-eyed Bugs
  • Minute Pirate Bugs
  • Hornets, Paper Wasps, Yellow Jackets

If you see any of these beneficial insects just remember they are doing their job and keeping your garden free of Aphids and other soft body insects.

There are places online where you can purchase beneficial insects but it’s not always recommended. If you don’t provide the right environment for them they will fly away before doing their job.

Attracting them naturally is the better option. Here are ways to attract beneficial insects to your garden:

  • Figure out which bad bugs you have and decide on which beneficial insect you want to use
  • Plant flowers and shrubs that will attract the beneficial insects
  • After a week or 2 you should start seeing some of the good bugs in your landscape
  • And the bad bug population should go down.

Plants that Repel Aphids

Aphids like most bad bugs don’t like strong scents. Planting the following plants will help control Aphids.

  • Marigolds
  • Petunias
  • Nasturtiums
  • Alliums
  • Sunflowers
  • Catnip
  • Dill
  • Fennel
  • Cilantro
  • Chives
  • Garlic
  • Spearmint
  • Onions
  • Coriander
  • oregano

If you have an Aphid problem planting some of these plants close to ones that are being attacked will help get rid of Aphids.

As you can see, there are a lot of different ways to get rid of Aphids. I have rubbed the leaves and stems with my gloved fingers and sprayed them with a strong spray of water and both have worked great.

Yellow Aphids on a green stem of a plant.

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