Looking for a way to rid yourself of little pests that can cause big damage in your garden? These aphid control techniques will help you save your plants.
Diagnosing the Issue
It’s easy to assume that aphids are to blame for plants that don’t look their best, but before you start treating, make sure you know that aphids are present. If another issue is causing your problems, your aphid control treatment may not work. Aphids don’t eat leaves; they suck moisture from stems and leaves. So, if your plants have large holes in the leaves, that’s not a sign of aphids. Rather, shriveled, curled leaves and shoots or sprouts that look withered and anemic are a good initial indicator that aphids are present.
The bugs themselves are tiny and oblong in shape, and they come in a variety of colors, including green, brown, white, yellow, black and pinkish-white. Young and adult aphids often group together in the same feeding areas, so there may be aphids in a variety of sizes on your plants. When there are many aphids on a plant, it may look like it has some sort of sticky sap on it, which is caused by the aphids’ excretions.
Ideally, you’ll catch aphids early in their infestation cycle so you can stop the problem before it gets out of control. This means monitoring new growth regularly throughout spring and summer. If you see aphids clustered on a leaf or stem, you can either prune that area away or use a hose to blast the bugs off the plant. Squishing them with gloved fingers can also work, but not if that causes you to damage the plant as well. If you do choose to prune the aphids off the plant, make sure you dispose of those plant parts immediately in a closed container. Don’t just toss them off to the side of your garden or the aphids will find their way back to your plants.
Advanced Management Techniques
When you notice the problem after a major infestation has begun, you can break out the big guns. Aphid-eating insects are a very effective means of controlling the issue, and the bonus is that these beneficial insects can feed on other harmful pests in your garden. Plus, this is by far the most environmentally friendly and food-safe way to approach the issue. Ladybugs are by far the most effective insects against aphids, but you need to release them correctly to reap the benefits they offer. Refrigerate them and release them after the sun goes down; otherwise, they won’t stay put in your garden long enough to make a positive difference.
If you want to just spray your plants and call it a day, you can use insecticidal soap or a neem oil solution. Spray either substance directly onto the aphids. Be cautious, however, not to use to much or distribute it too far because aphids can build up resistance to pesticides, and these chemicals also kill the aphids’ natural predators.