How to get rid of aphids: natural aphid control & prevention
There are many different ways to get rid of aphids. We will show you how to control aphids naturally. Keep on reading for more info on the advantages of natural aphid control methods.
A single aphid is not a problem; however, aphids tend to mass reproduce. For you to prevent infestation with the pesky parasites, we will present different methods for getting rid of them in the following.
How to get rid of aphids on plants: the best remedies
There are various ways of controlling aphids. While some remedies work well, others are not very effective. We will explain how to use beneficial insects, household remedies, sprays against aphids as well as chemical.
How to get rid of aphids naturally: aphid control without chemicals
There are countless synthetic products available on the market which have proven to be efficient against aphids. However, they carry a higher risk of harming beneficial insects as well as the gardeners themselves. We therefore advise against the use of these products in your garden. Organic products and home remedies are an effective and safer alternative for yourself and the environment.
Neem-based products are especially effective when it comes to aphid control. These products are made from the oil of the neem tree. Aphids absorb the active ingredient while sucking on the plants and will stop feeding after only a few hours. The active ingredient also interferes with the aphids’ development, therefore preventing new aphid generations from forming. What is special about neem-based products is that they have a systemic effect: the active ingredient is absorbed and distributed to all parts of the plant. This way, all aphids, even the well-hidden ones, are affected.
There are also organic rapeseed oil-based products. However, they are only effective when they come into direct contact with the insects. Thus, they do not have a systemic effect. As a result, you might have to apply the product several times, which some plants do not tolerate well. Other organic remedies may contain pyrethrins which are harmful to beneficial insects. We do not advise using products with pyrethrins.
Unfortunately, household remedies against aphids only have a limited effect. To get the most out of them you have to apply home remedies several times. If the aphid infestation is not too severe and detected early on, they can get the job done. We will explain DIY hacks, for instance, how to fight aphids with the help of soap sprays or natural aphid spray made from stinging nettles for example. However, if you have a severe infestation, most of the time only an actual pesticide will get the job done.
Getting rid of aphids with beneficial insects
Even though some beneficial insects naturally exist in the garden, you can also purchase insects for the specific purpose of controlling your aphid infestation. The targeted use of beneficial insects is particularly effective in greenhouses and conservatories. When used outdoors the insects are likely to migrate and will not stay on the plant that requires treatment.
Ladybirds are the beneficial insects that exterminate the largest number of aphids. Their larvae are voracious; one larva can easily get rid of up to 600 aphids throughout its developmental stages. You can use different types of ladybirds to control aphids, for example the two-spot ladybird (Adalia bipunctata) or the seven-spot ladybird (Coccinella septempunctata). Find more information on how to use ladybirds against aphids in this article. A ladybird species which we do not recommend is the harlequin ladybird (Harmonia axyridis) as it is a very invasive species which has led to the decline of many ladybirds native to Europe.
Another effective species of beneficial insects are ichneumon wasps (Ichneumonidae). By using its prick the ichneumon was lays each of its eggs into a single aphid. The eggs develop into larvae which then use the unhatched aphids as food source. After about seven days the ichneumon wasps emerge from a small hole in the body of the prey. One ichneumonid can get rid of several hundred aphids. Most species only infest certain kinds of aphids. Aphelinus abdominalis is an exceptional ichneumon wasp as it has a broad prey spectrum.
The last beneficial insect against aphids to be mentioned is the green lacewing (Chrysoperla carnea) or, more specifically, its voracious larvae. They are undemanding when it comes to environmental conditions. If a larva finds an aphid, it will bite the insect and suck it dry in no time. That way, one larva kills a multitude of aphids in a single day.
Tip: Beneficial insects can be highly specialised and often only feed on one specific aphid species. You should therefore always consult an expert before using beneficial insects for pest control. Keep in mind that you should only purchase beneficial insects if you can offer the insects good conditions for rapid reproduction and when you are not using other pesticides at the same time.
How to get rid of aphids with chemicals
If your beloved plants are threatened by an aphid infestation, quite a few hobby gardeners (even despite their love for the environment) prefer to use conventional, ecologically harmful aphid sprays. Some frequently used products contain deltamethrin which works extremely fast through a so-called “knockdown effect”. However, this means that the products are also very harmful to beneficial insects in your garden. Neonicotinoids such as acetamiprid and flupyradifurone are often toxic to bees as well as many other beneficial insects. You should therefore always make sure to purchase plant protection products which are suitable for organic farming, instead of resorting to lethal synthetic products. Unfortunately, there still is the persistent idea that organic pest control products are less effective and/or slow in their working. This is untrue and there are many natural remedies that do work quickly and effectively.
You can find aphids everywhere in our gardens. Unfortunately, we cannot prevent the small pests completely. Here are some simple tips on how to keep aphids away:
- Many beneficial insects naturally live in our gardens and help getting rid of aphids, such as ladybirds, ichneumon flies, green lacewings and gall midges. Natural garden design provides possibilities for the beneficial insects to retreat, allowing the garden to organically regulate the number of aphids. You can attract beneficial insects to your garden with native flowering plants. Also, avoid using chemical plant protection products in your garden that are harmful to beneficial insects.
- As a preventive measure, make sure that your plants are as resistant as possible. Try avoiding nitrogen-rich fertilisers and provide your plants with a good amount of potassium. You can easily achieve this with potassium-rich Plantura Tomato Food, for example. Providing your plants with a good location also makes for more resistant plants. The more robust the less the risk of aphids. Also try to keep enough distance between plants, for them to develop nicely and to also give their roots enough space.
- Many aphid species spend the winter on specific host plants, from which they attack new plants the spring after that. Keeping the winter hosts out of your garden, you might be able to avoid an early aphid infestation in spring. The black bean aphid (Aphis fabae), for example, likes to spend winter on guelder roses (Viburnum opulus). So, if you find that your plants are frequently infested by black bean aphids, removing all guelder roses from your garden might be an idea.
- If you generally have a big problem with aphids, we recommend that you use a plant booster. You can strengthen your plants’ cells by spraying horsetail extract onto them, which contains silicic acid. This makes it more difficult for aphids to penetrate the plant with their proboscises. However, this is only effective if repeated about once every week.
Nevertheless, sometimes weather favours the aphids’ growth so strongly that all preventive measures fail. If this is the case, the only way of getting rid of the insects are effective organic plant protection products.
Aphids like to attack roses. We have therefore compiled some tips on how to get rid of aphids on roses for you.