Aphids are the most common of all garden pests. If you have an aphid infestation in your garden, you'll know it very quickly. The leaves of your plants will curl inward and new shoots will be deformed. If you look under the leaves of your plants, you'll see pear-shaped bugs about the size of a pinhead. You may also see a sticky residue, which aphids secrete when they feed. Aphids come in many colors, but white and green are the most prevalent. There are a few ways of destroying these pests organically, but it will take patience to completely eliminate them. Read on for some tips on how to get rid of this problem.
- The simplest way to discourage aphids is to hit them with a blast of water from the garden hose. Don't use a very strong blast, however--the idea is to kill these garden pests, not the plant. The aphids that fall to the ground will usually not live long enough to climb back up the stem of the plant. Of course, the ones that fly away will come right back as soon as you take the hose away. This method works best for very mild infestations.
- There are several pest control products that you can use to get rid of aphids. Natural pest control products that you should be able to find at your local garden center include pyrethrum sprays and insecticidal soaps. Although these contain only natural ingredients, they can still be harmful to beneficial insects, so use them with care. Apply these sprays directly to your plant foliage and repeat once a week until the aphids are gone. If you prefer to make your own organic aphid spray, boil several cloves of garlic and a teaspoon of cayenne pepper in one quart of water for an hour. After the mixture cools, strain it, then apply to your plants with a spray bottle.
- Beneficial insects will feed on your aphids and greatly reduce their population. One of the most efficient insect pest control 'beneficials' are lacewings and ladybugs. Both of these can be purchased from garden centers or mail-order catalogs. Try to purchase lacewings that are already adults. They are usually sold as larvae, which will not help control your aphid problem. By the time they mature, the aphids will have destroyed your garden. The main drawback to using beneficial insects is that as soon as your aphids are gone, the lacewings and ladybugs will move on to greener pastures--probably the aphid-infested garden down the street!
- There are many homemade aphid control remedies, some of which have been scientifically proven to work. Planting marigolds around your garden seems to work quite well, mostly because they will attract insects which feed on aphids. Planting an allium, such as chives, garlic or onions, also seems to be an effective deterrent. A rather unusual remedy which many people swear by is to shred banana peels and bury them around your plants.
- If you notice just a few aphids in your garden, you can pick them off one by one and squish them. They are usually easy to catch, but this is a time-consuming chore.
- If you see aphids on only a few leaves, you can remove the leaves and destroy them.
With a bit of patience and diligence, you can learn how to kill these insects to once again have an aphid-free garden!