Aphids also known as greenflies or plant lice, are most commonly light green or black, but can also be white, brown, gray, or yellow. These tiny insects are less than ¼-inch long, usually found on the backs of leaves, bases of stems, on flower buds and fruits, and sometimes roots, depending on the species.
There are different ways to control aphids without using dangerous chemicals in the garden. Aphids have several natural enemies, including other insects, insect larvae, and birds. Because they move rather slowly makes them easy to remove by hand or target with sprays. Aphids multiply quickly, so completely controlling them may require a combination of methods as well as repeated efforts.
Growing the right plants attract predatory insects, plants that repel aphids, and plants that trap aphids.
10 Natural Ways To Get Rid Of Aphids
Aphids can be removed naturally by hand either by spraying water or knocking them into a bucket of soapy water. Controlling with natural or organic sprays like a soap-and-water mixture, neem oil, or essential oils. Natural predators like ladybugs, green lacewings, and birds can be employed.
Here are a few methods for natural aphid control:
#1. Using Water
A strong stream of water can be used to spray aphids off plants with a garden hose. This method is most effective early in the season before the full infestation of aphids. It may not be a good choice for younger or more delicate plants, but it works well on plants that can withstand the high pressure of water.
#2. Using soap and water
A homemade aphid spray can be made by mixing a few tablespoons of a pure liquid soap in a small bucket of water. Detergents or products with degreasers or moisturizers should be avoided. The spray can be applied with a spray bottle directly on aphids and the affected parts of the plant.
Ensure that the undersides of leaves where eggs and larvae like to hide get well soaked. The soap dissolves the protective outer layer of aphids and other soft-bodied insects, eventually killing them. It does not harm birds or hard-bodied beneficial insects like lacewings, ladybugs, or pollinating bees
#3. Introduction of Green lacewings
As with ladybugs, green lacewing larvae do the work of controlling aphids. Green lacewing eggs can be purchased online and sometimes at a local nursery.
#4. Deadly Diatomaceous Earth
Diatomaceous earth can be purchased in a food-grade that can be effectively used in the fight against aphid infestations. It is to be sprinkled in its powdered form directly onto the leaves and on the aphids.
It is made from the fossilized remains of marine phytoplankton and it is considered to be completely safe for humans with no harmful side effects. To aphids, however, it is fine enough to penetrate through their protective exoskeleton, thereby opening them up to dehydration leading to their death.
#5. Introduction of Bird
Bug-eating birds, like wrens and chickadees, can be provided with houses in the garden to live in and they will help in keeping the insect population under control. Small trees and shrubs can be grown where these birds can take cover and build their nests. Wrens, chickadees, and titmice all love to eat bugs.
The welcome mat can be laid out with some shrubs or a birdhouse to nest in, a nice birdfeeder, and maybe a birdbath to attract bug-eating birds.
#6. Neem oil
Neem oil is made from the Azadirachta indica tree which is used in soaps and organic cosmetics. It has both insecticidal and antifungal properties, and it is very safe to use if applied properly. It is most often used as a soil drench which is absorbed by the plant through the soil.
The organic constituents in neem oil act as a repellent for aphids and other insects, including mealybugs, cabbage worms, beetles, leafminers, ants, and various types of caterpillars. However, it may repel beneficial insects, so caution must be taken when using neem oil.
Package instructions for diluting the oil in water must be followed strictly or better still to avoid mistakes a ready-to-use neem oil spray can be used instead. The affected areas should be sprayed only. Neem oil is also a good choice for controlling different types of fungus.
#7. Essential oils
A spray mixture with essential oils can be made at home using 4 to 5 drops each of peppermint, clove, rosemary and thyme, and water mixed in a small spray bottle. Then spray on affected plants to target adult aphids, as well as aphid larvae and eggs.
#8. Garlic Spray
Garlic spray is a great natural insecticide because it does not kill beneficial bugs. It does not kill any bug actually, it only ensures that plants get so stinky that the bad bugs would not want to hang out or lay eggs there.
To prepare garlic insecticide spray, a full head of garlic is crushed and soaked in 2 cups of hot water overnight. The garlic pieces are strained out and put in compost. The garlic water is kept in a glass or plastic spray bottle along with 1 Tablespoon of dish soap and 1 Tablespoon hot pepper. It should be stored in the fridge to preserve it. The tops and undersides of the leaves are sprayed with garlic spray.
#9. Insecticidal Soap
This is a very safe, inexpensive, virtually nontoxic method to control aphids. It can be used right up till it is time for harvest. Insecticidal soap suffocates the aphids and does extra work by helping to wash off the honeydew excreted by aphids.
Straight dish or laundry soap should not be used because they are far too harsh and will burn or kill plants. Insecticidal soap should be diluted according to label directions and sprayed on the tops and undersides of the leaves. This procedure may have to be repeated in 5-7 days until the aphids are eliminated.
#10. Remove By Hand
Aphids can be knocked off stems, leaves, flower buds, or wherever they are seen into a bucket of soapy water to kill them. The affected areas can also be pruned or cut off.