We all hate to see aphid damage on our plants. They leave a path of stunted growth, yellowed leaves, reduced crop growth, mottled leaves, leaf curl, and distorted leaves from sucking plant juices from our plants. They also spread aphid-transmitted viruses.
Many homeowners prefer natural aphid control methods over the chemical approach of applying broad-spectrum pesticides. In this article, we will explore over a dozen ways to control aphids naturally.
Aphids (plant lice) are a big problem for gardeners and farmers of all types. There is a wide variety of more than 4000 different species of aphids. Of these, 250 types are very damaging to crops.
Aphids come with unique names:
12+ Organic Aphid Control Options To Get Rid Of Aphids Naturally
#1 – Get Rid Of Aphids By Picking Them Off!
If you notice a few aphids on your plants or in the vegetable garden, get rid of them by picking them off right away. With a minor infestation, this may be all you need to do.
If you have quite a few aphids on buds and hiding on the undersides of leaves, you’ll want to put on a pair of close-fitting gloves to pinch them off and brush them away.
#2 – Remove Affected Plants
If your aphid infestation only has an impact on a few branches or several ornamental plants, remove these. Keep individual plants quarantined and begin by killing aphids with soapy water or use a castile soap aphid spray.
If you have pruned away a few infested branches, put them in a bucket of soapy water to soak and kill off the aphids. Alternatively, if you have a burn pile consider burning these branches.
Removing the food source of the aphids and any garden pest is key to pest control. No Food – No Eat!
#3 – Hose Them Down!
With established plants, a strong spray of water from a garden hose can knock off a small adult aphid infestation. This is a good follow-up after picking individual aphids off mature plants.
Blasting small or young plants with water is not a good idea as it may damage or kill them.
#4 – Get Rid Of Aphids By Spraying Them With A Dish Soap Spray!
Dish soaps dissolve the waxy coating protecting the aphid body. With this coating gone the pests become dehydrated and die very quickly.
You don’t have to make a strong insecticidal soap solution. Just a couple of tablespoons of dish soap in a quart of water sprayed directly on the aphids will kill them.
Be careful about spraying this insecticidal soap everywhere because it will also kill good insects, any natural enemy, and aphid predators such as the ladybug, praying mantis and the like.
Use an insecticidal soap solution only specific on aphid infestations you can see.
#5 – Get Rid Of Aphids With Neem Insecticide Oil
Neem oil is a natural antifungal, antibacterial and insecticidal oil that can be added to your soap concoction or used instead of dish soap in the same way.
Neem oil not only kills aphids, it also repels them.
Organic Natural Neem Oil
Neem oil is our favorite go-to natural insecticide. Unfortunately, like the soaps it is unfriendly to good garden bugs so use it sparingly.
Learn more about How to use Neem oil on plants and its many benefits.
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#6 – Essential Oils For Aphids Can Also Be Used In Much The Same Way As Neem Oil And Dish Soap
Use essential oils by adding half a dozen drops each of rosemary, thyme, peppermint, and clove oils in a quarter of water to make an excellent aphid killing, spider mite killer, and repelling spray.
As a bonus, you can also spray this on yourself to repel insects such as mosquitoes.
#7 – Get Rid Of Aphids By Maintaining A Healthy Population Of Beneficial Insects
When you have reduced your aphid feeding population, try introducing some beneficial ‘bugs’ to your garden. Have you ever asked – What eats aphids? For starters ladybugs love aphids.
You can purchase ladybugs or lady beetles (hippodamia convergens) online and sometimes from your local garden center.
Natural predators like green Lacewings (sometimes called aphid lions) eat aphids, and you can purchase them or their eggs to populate your garden.
Aphid midge larvae are voracious aphid killers. A single larva can eat 65 aphids per day. Their strong jaws and paralyzing toxin help reduce aphid populations.
Hoverfly larvae maggots consume hundreds of aphids and other soft-bodied insects such as scale insects and thrips.
Assassin bugs feed on a whole variety of pests throughout their lifespan, including aphids.
Parasitic Wasps lay eggs in aphid colonies. As the wasps’ larvae hatch, it slowly weakens and kills the aphids. And the aphids as the wasps pupate become an “aphid mummy.” [source]
You can also naturally attract beneficial predator insects to your garden by planting fragrant herbs and companion plants throughout the garden. Some of the best choices include:
Be advised if you have cats or if cats roam your neighborhood; you should leave the catnip out of this mix!
#8 – Repel Aphids With Plants
Just as you can attract beneficial insects to your garden with fragrant herbs, you can repel aphids with plants such as garlic and onion.
Create your own garlic spray for aphids at home.
As a bonus, the flowers of these plants will also attract beneficial garden insects.
#9 – Get Rid Of Aphids By Keeping The Ants Away!
As we have said, aphid honeydew (sticky substance) attracts ants and sooty mold, and the ants tend to be very protective of their aphid herds.
Ants may even interfere with birds being able to eat aphids, so it’s a good idea to prevent them from ever discovering a population of aphids on your plants.
You can help keep ants away by distracting them with baited traps on the ground and at the base of infested plants.
A jar lid containing a few drops of honey or sugar water should do the trick.
#10 – Create A Habitat For Birds!
Remember having a healthy bird population in your garden is a good way to keep the insect pests down. This includes aphids!
The best birds for eating aphids are small ones such as titmice, chickadees and wrens. Attract them by providing bushy hedges and small trees for them to nest and hide in.
Some good choices include hydrangeas, privet hedge, and boxwood plants.
Place birdhouses strategically and provide birds with foods such as shelled or black oil sunflower seeds to attract them and keep them present so they will also eat your aphids!
#11 – Distract The Aphids!
Along with all of your other strategies, you might also plant a decoy garden to draw the aphids away from your other plants.
A lovely, colorful garden of milkweed, asters, the cosmos plant, dahlias, and zinnias is sure to draw aphids!
You can follow the ants’ example and cultivate your aphids in this area so there will always be plenty of good food for your bird population.
Additionally, you should be advised that these plants should not be intermixed with your other plants as they will tend to increase your aphid problem.
#12 – Keep Your Plants Healthy!
Be sure you understand the care requirements for all of the types of plants you grow. Strong healthy plants naturally repel aphids and disease.
#13 Control Garden Pests With Diatomaceous Earth
One of the best pest control solutions on soft-bodied insects like aphids is Diatomaceous Earth (food grade). The fine-powder slices the outer layer of the aphids soft-body as they crawl on the DE killing the pest through dehydration.
#14 – Get Rid Of Aphids With A Cayenne Pepper Mix Spray
Use cayenne pepper to control aphids and other small garden pests.
Make a homemade aphid spray by mixing one cup of water and one teaspoon of Cayenne pepper or blend one hot Chile Pepper in one cup of water.
Spray and cover the insect pests with the cayenne pepper spray solution.
Stay In Balance!
Learn from the balance of nature. Aphid pest control is not a one-step process.
While you could spray a systemic insecticide all over your yard and kill aphids off, they would simply come back again when the poison wears off.
It is far wiser to create a balance by targeting aphids when you see them, cultivating a good population of beneficial insects and birds and creating distractions to keep the aphids away from your most prized plants.