Organic Aphid Control: Ditch the Chemicals and Control Aphids Naturally

Aphids
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Are you looking to control aphids naturally in your garden? Get ready to go natural with these 10 organic aphid control tips.

Aphids on a rose - organic aphid control

You often imagine what your garden would be like without the different varieties of aphids eating down your produce.

Your vegetables appear luscious and plump. Your plants’ leaves are stiff and ripe with excitement, as there is no curling up of leaves or stunting of growth.

Your entire garden teems with joy without menacing aphids and yields are more than enough to feed your family.

Isn’t that what the perfect garden looks like?

This fantasy can become your reality.

You want to evict aphids from your garden, but you don’t want to use chemicals and insecticides. How can you control aphids naturally and not harm your garden’s ecosystem?

Let’s dig into some easy-peasy organic aphid control tips but, first, allow me to bore you a bit and talk about why you need to oust aphids like yesterday.

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Why Put Organic Aphid Control Methods in Place

aphid on a leaf

You’re already aware of the dangers of synthesized chemicals, especially when used around crops that’ll ultimately be found in your kitchen and on your plate.

You are what you eat, right? So, if you feed your plants mercilessly with chemicals, you affect the fauna and flora in the environment. Soil microorganisms are ruined, beneficial insects are chased off or killed, and you can compromise your own health.

No fearmongering here; just plain old facts. Rather than resort to chemicals, it’s best to control aphids naturally.

But, what about aphids?

Why should you not delay in getting rid of them? The cruel destruction mete out to your plants is obvious, but there’s one vital truth gardeners don’t know.

Come closer…I’ll share the secret.

Much like rodents that are carriers of harmful diseases, aphids can transmit viruses to plants. In fact, aphids are the most common bearers or vectors of plant viruses. No worries, I’ll expound a bit more on plant viruses spread by aphids, but in another article.

Now let’s jump back to the elephant in the room. You can control aphids naturally by using the suggestions to follow.

How to Control Aphids Naturally

Remember, there’s no single foolproof organic aphid control tip. Results are more promising when a combination of interventions are used. If you do try a suggestion and reap results from it, don’t stop there; add more treatment options to oust aphids for good.

1.   Stalk Your Garden Like a Hawk

Yes, stalk your garden like a hawk. This organic aphid control tip doesn’t sound like much, but you might be amazed at what observation and simply being on the lookout can do.

You’re not merely watching your garden because it’s beautiful, but you’re looking out for signs of aphids. Once caught early, you can begin the elimination process.

Monitor your garden at least twice each week once plants begin rapid growth. If you do catch sight of aphids, knock them off with your fingers or a hose. Prune badly covered leaves.

Aphids are more voracious in spring when the weather is warm, not hot. Don’t wait until your plants’ leaves start curling up to act. At this time, it’s tedious to flick aphids off, as curled leaves protect them.

Aphids love to attach to plants upwind, and as they are a close-knit bunch, a single infested leaf could indicate a bigger problem.

When monitoring plants, here are a few things to check for:

  • An influx of ants
  • Curled leaves
  • Natural aphid predators such as lacewings and ladybugs
  • Preserved skins of parasitized aphids
  • Dead aphids that appear fattened and off-coloured
  • Honeydew

An influx of ants, curled leaves, and sightings of aphids behind leaves indicate an infestation. With the presence of natural predators, mummified aphid skin, and dead aphids, this could indicate that only little is needed on your part to contain the problem, as natural elements are working in your favour.

When you control aphids naturally by becoming an all-seeing hawk for your garden, you may be able to nip a problem in the bud, before it becomes a fierce infestation.

2.   Send Aphid Enemies to Do Your Dirty Work

“The enemy of my enemy is my friend”, right? You don’t have to fight this battle alone. Aphids have copious enemies that’ll clean house for you. Some of these enemies will flock to your garden naturally once aphids are present, but you may have to lend a hand by boosting their numbers. This is especially important if the number of aphids is more than their predators.

When you use natural predators to get rid of aphids, you allow the natural cycle of things to run its course. These bugs need to eat too, right? Plus, some predators like parasitic wasps need aphids to continue their reproductive cycle.

These parasitic wasps scout out aphids simply to inject their eggs. After aphids are parasitized, their skin becomes mummified or crust-like. Once the life cycle of an aphid parasite runs its course, a vicious cycle, that benefits your garden, unreels.

While parasitic wasps parasitize aphids, other bugs feed directly on them. These include:

  • Ladybeetles
  • Soldier beetles
  • Lacewing larvae
  • Syrphid fly larvae

Some of these predators are available commercially, so don’t be afraid to use predatory insects to control aphids naturally.

3.   Keep Aphid Slave Drivers in Check

Aphids have fierce, alert masters overseeing their activities. These slave drivers are quite ferocious and will protect their investment. As aphids secrete this sweet, sticky substance called honeydew, they often find protection from ants.

A telling sign that you have an aphid infestation on hand is when ants keep marching back and forth on plants. These ants stick around to fight off aphid enemies, all while tending aphids. You don’t want this happening.

To learn more about the strange, mutually beneficial relationship between ants and aphids, check out the article I wrote about 10 cool facts about ants.

If ants keep aphid predators  and parasites at bay, an aphid infestation could double, even triple. Once you get an ant infestation in check, predatory insects will be left to have their way with aphids.

How do you keep these slave drivers in check? Use tanglefoot to stifle ant movement.

Containerized baits or ant stakes are worthwhile options, and they don’t affect aphids and their predators.

4.   Get to the ‘Root’ of the Matter

To prevent an aphid infestation is better than having to tender a cure. Getting to the root of the matter is important. This method might provide minimum help to an already blooming garden, but if you’re just getting ready to put seed to oil or transplant, it’s important.

Check surrounding spaces before planting vegetable crops. It’s not uncommon for aphids to populate weeds like mustard and sowthistle, so scout out and remove these sources.

If these weeds are left to thrive, as soon as your vegetables are transplanted (or begin to grow), guess what aphids will do? You bet! They will flock to the tastier, more nutritious meals.

While you do want to throw these weeds out, they can be of temporary benefit. As soon as aphids accumulate on these weeds, that’s your cue to introduce aphid predators. This is a smart organic aphid control tip that many gardeners can tap into before new crops arrive.

5.   Hold Back on that Nitrogen Fertilizer

Plants love nitrogen fertilizers because they leave your garden fat, ravishing, and rich. This healthy, rapid development is a good look on your crops. However, your plants aren’t the only ones getting fat off nitrogen fertilizers.

Overfertilizing could spur an increased emergence of aphids that would likely be more gruesome than your already existing infestation.

So, the next time you’re beyond tempted to apply nitrogen fertilizer, don’t.

6.   Roll Out Those Protective Covers

Another way to control aphids naturally is to use protective covers. Your vegetable seedlings look like a lamb to the slaughter during their budding days. If left unprotected, they might not come to fruition.

To protect your seedlings, use protective covers and give them a fighting chance. This method of exclusion is effective because you’re preventing pests from getting to the crop.

7.   Shoot Them Off with Pure Liquid Soap

What a rude awakening to hit aphids with. Water sprayed from a bottle or hose does the trick, but if you want to take things up a notch, add castile liquid soap. This is a vegetable-based soap, so there’s no comprise.

To make, use a 1 to 2% solution in water and add to a spray bottle. When ready, let it rain on your plants. Ensure to target the undersides of leaves, as aphids love this area. This solution will kill aphids, not only knock them off.

If you use this method to control aphids naturally, affected areas should be covered thoroughly to kill aphids. This method will also need several reapplications as it’s direct and not residual, which means it only kills aphids it comes in contact with.

If you’re not a fan of using castile soap, or any soap for that matter, use water in a spray bottle for seedlings, and a hose for developed plants. Be warned, knocking off aphids does not get rid of them. They won’t normally find their way back to the same plant, but likely affect other plants.

This method is counterproductive, as you’re forcing them to spread out. Use a soap solution. It won’t kill you, or your plants.

8.   The Power of Neem Oil to the Rescue

Yes, it’s the power of neem oil to the rescue. Research shows that neem oil affects over 200 species of insects, including the infamous aphid.

The oil is a natural derivative of the neem tree, so it can be used to your advantage. Neem oil can be used the same as liquid castile soap and water. Simply add a 2% solution of neem oil to a spray bottle with water and apply to affected plants.

9.   Essential Oils that Aphids Hate

Essential oils are another organic means to control aphids naturally. These naturally occurring oils are extracted from different plant parts through a distillation process.

If you would like to give essential oils a go, try using oils such as cinnamon leaf, thyme, clove and lemon eucalyptus, and blue gum eucalyptus oil.

Do not lather your plants all over with these potent, highly concentrated oils. They will burn your plants. Instead, you can dilute an essential oil in neem oil (or liquid castile soap) and then add to a spray bottle with water.

Another plus to using essential oils is that your garden with be filled with aromas, depending on how many essential oils are used.

10. Plant Natural Repellents of Aphids

Cultivate plants that drive aphids berserk. Many of these aromatic plants are even repulsive to the human nose. Aphid-repelling plants include onions, garlic, chives, catnip, and others. Some of these plants can be obtained as an essential oil.

On the other hand, if you have a vegetable garden and would like a distraction for aphids, try planting foliage they love. Some of these include:

  • Verbena
  • Zinnia
  • Tuberose begonia
  • Dahlia

If aphids can access their ideal, choicest meals, just maybe, your food produce will thrive and be left unbothered.

Pheeew…I’ve given you a lot to digest. As mentioned before, you may have to try a few of the suggestions to control aphids naturally. But, it’s possible to keep their numbers down and protect your garden. To conclude, here are all the organic aphid control interventions mentioned throughout the article.

1. Stalk Your Garden Like a Hawk

2. Send Aphid Enemies to Do Your Dirty Work

3. Keep Aphid Slave Drivers in Check

4. Get to the ‘Root’ of the Matter

5. Hold Back on that Nitrogen Fertilizer

6. Roll Out Those Protective Covers

7. Shoot Them Off with Pure Liquid Soap

8. The Power of Neem Oil to the Rescue

9.  Essential Oils that Aphids Hate

10. Plant Natural Repellents of Aphids

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