Aphids are pesky insects that can cause severe damage to a plant if left unchecked, but if you catch them early enough, they’re not too hard to control. Most gardeners will have to deal with these little guys at some point over the years. They are very common and will attack almost any plant. I’ve seen them on my tomatoes this year and have successfully been able to keep them at bay.
Today, I’m going to help you identify if you’re dealing with an aphid problem and a few ways to control aphids.
Aphids are very small (up to 1/4 inch), soft-bodied insects that suck vital nutrients from our precious plants. They are teeny, tiny, but you can see them with the human eye if you look closely enough. They can be white, black, brown, gray, yellow, or light green, but all look like a small oval. You’ll usually find them on the undersides of leaves or on the stem. Damage can weaken plants. Besides seeing the aphids, signs of an aphid infestation include wilting and distortion of leaves and young shoots, as well as yellowing and premature death of leaves and young plants.
Aphids aren’t too picky about their plant-choice, so it’s a good idea to check all plants regularly. It’s much easier to control them when numbers are small than when you have a full-blown infestation. Check all parts of the plant (stems, upper and lower sides of leaves) you’re inspecting, and inspect often, as re-infestation are common.
Luckily, aphids are slow-moving, so they are relatively easy to control as long as you stay on top of it.
Below, I’ve written out a few ways to control aphids. We all have different gardening methods, so I’ve included both natural as well as synthetic controls.
Before using any product, make sure to thoroughly read all labels and follow directions according to each product for an effective and safe application.
Natural Methods to Control Aphids That Don’t Require Special Products
- Hand-pick aphids off plants and drop them in a cup of soapy water (or simply crush them). This might seem cruel, but having a garden that you’ve worked so hard on get destroyed isn’t fun either.
- Spray off with a heavy stream of water (not guaranteed to kill them, but it will get them off your precious plants).
- Release lady bugs in the garden. They’re a natural predator of aphids, so they will do the dirty work for you!
- Castile Soap Spray – Spray a mixture of an all-natural soap (like castile) and water. Use about 5 tbsp of soap per gallon of water. You can optionally add a tsp of vegetable oil to help the soap mixture adhere to the leaves and a mix of a couple drops of essential oil, such as lavender, peppermint, clove, or rosemary, to further repel pests.
Natural Products to Control Aphids
Natural products that are crafted specifically for use in organic gardening. We carry all of the following at our garden center. You might even have one of these sitting around in your gardening shed – it’s always nice to use something you already have on-hand in a pinch.
Bonide Neem oil –
This is one of my favorite methods of control, as neem oil is safe and can be used for a myriad of other pests, fungi, and disease.
Neem oil is made from the seed of the neem tree.
Use it as a preventive measure or on an active infestation.
Fertilome Triple Action Plus –
A 3-in-1 product (insecticide, fungicide, and miticide) that is OMRI certified.
Use on fruits, herbs, nuts, vegetables, flowers, & shrubs.
Acts as an “exciter” to flush insect pests out of hiding and into direct contact with spray residues.
Toxic to bees, so do not use at times that bees are active.
Mix 2 tablespoons per gallon of water.
Bonide Mite-X –
A broad spectrum, effective indoor/outdoor mite control for vegetables, fruits, vine crops, shrubs, herbs, ornamentals, evergreens, greenhouse plants, and interior plants.
Made from botanical cottonseed, clove and garlic extracts.
Can be used for spider mites & thrips as well.
Completely safe for use in and around the home.
Synthetic Controls for Aphids
The following are all synthetic controls that work wonderfully to control and ultimately eliminate aphids. We carry all of the following at our garden center. You might even have one of these sitting around in your gardening shed – it’s always nice to use something you already have on-hand in a pinch.
Bonide: Eight Insect Control Garden Dust –
An outstanding vegetable garden insecticide.
Works on most insect pests common to home gardens.
Dust upper and lower sides of leaf evenly.
There must be 24 hours of no rain after applying Eight Garden Dust.
Bonide Rose Rx –
Kills eggs, larvae and adult insects! For use on roses and flowers as well as fruits, nuts, vegetables, herbs, houseplants, trees, and shrubs.
Can be used up to day of harvest.
Works as a fungicide as well.
Bonide Fruit Tree & Plant Guard –
Great for controlling disease and other insects as well as aphids.
Mix 2 fl. oz. of product per gallon of water (1.25 fl. oz. of product per gallon of water).
Fertilome 2-N-1 Systemic –
No spraying required! Just mix & pour around base of plant.
Six week protection from insect pests and diseases.
Use on ornamental flowers and shrubs.
Protects entire plant, including new growth.
Bonide Systemic Houseplant Insect Control –
No odor, easy to use granules provides insect control for up to 8 weeks on indoor plants!
Works from the inside of the plant. The insects will ingest it as they munch on the plant, rather than needing to put it directly on the insect.
Bonide Systemic Insect Control –
A systemic insecticide that kills aphids, whiteflies, miners, and scales.
For use on trees, flowers and shrubs,
Works from inside the plant. The insects will ingest it as they munch on the plant, rather than needing to put it directly on the insect.
Use 2 Tbs (1 fl oz) per gallon of water.
For outdoor use only.
Bio-Advanced: 3-in1 Insect, Disease and Mite Control –
For use on non-edible plants only!
Apply when insects, mites, or disease first appear.