Tired of the sooty mold left behind and the influx of ants caused by aphid’s honeydew? Perhaps, these garden pests are wreaking havoc on the garden? 

If left unchecked, these houseplant pests can stunt the growth of the garden. Here’s how to go about killing aphids or maintain aphid control.

Here’s How to Kill Aphids For Good

Aphids can be eliminated from the garden without harmful chemicals by incorporating various tactics.

Some natural enemies of aphids are:

  • Birds
  • Insect larvae
  • Other insects
Photo by Lennart Tange

Moreover, since aphids aren’t the fastest insects, I could manage them with sprays or by hand.

Quick pro tip: In a week, an adult aphid can produce up to 80 offspring. To eliminate aphids, combining several methods is required.

Hose With a Spray Nozzle (Organic) 

Grab a garden hose and spray off the infested plant with a powerful stream. It’s best to use this method before the aphid infestation entirely takes hold. However, make sure that the plant can handle high water pressure. Otherwise, the plant might die.

Use Your Hands (Organic) 

Place a bucket of water mixed with soap beneath the plant, put on some gardening gloves, and knock off the aphids into the pail.

Insecticidal Soap 

Anyone can prepare a homemade aphid spray by combining three tablespoons of natural soap (like Castile soap) in a container filled with water.

After finishing crafting the spray, apply it to affect the parts of the plant. Aim for applying it under a leaf. It’s an area where aphids love to hide.

The insecticidal soap will dissolve the protective layer of aphids in other insects like ants, which will kill them. It’s harmless to birds, ladybugs, or bees.

Neem Oil (Organic) 

Neem oil repels insects like aphids and:

  • Cabbage worms
  • Beetles
  • Leafminers
  • Ants
  • Various caterpillars

However, neem oil may harm beneficial insects, so use this horticultural oil with caution.

Essential Oils 

In addition to using neem oil, anyone can create a homemade aphid spray with the following oils:

  • Peppermint
  • Rosemary
  • Clove
  • Thyme

Throw in four to five drops of each essential oil and mix them in a spray bottle.

Tanglefoot Tangle-Trap 

The pesticide-free and natural sticky coating contains gum, resins, vegetable oil, and wax. It’s an excellent and weather-resistant medium anyone can apply to surfaces to trap beetles, ants, and aphids.

Natural Predator Removal

The following creatures are predatory insects and creatures to aphids. It’s ideal for attracting them into the yard (unless they’re harmful to any plants in the crop) to maintain aphid control.

Natural predator removal for aphids.

Green Lacewings

Larvae of lacewings are wingless when they hatch but remain in the general area to hunt for prey such as aphids. A nice perk because that means these beneficial insects won’t flee the area. Moreover, these bugs reside around an aphid colony.

Since lacewings are soft-bodied insects like aphids, you must not use insecticidal soap in tandem with releasing green lacewings in the garden. The soap spray will kill them along with the aphids. Moreover, when using neem oil, ensure not to introduce lacewings into the garden.

Green lacewing eggs are available at local biological control supply shops or online.

Lady Beetles

Ladybugs, also known as lady beetles, eat fewer aphids in their adult stage than they do in their larval stage. Therefore, it’s best to keep ladybugs in the area long enough to mate to hatch larvae to deal with the aphids.

After purchasing ladybugs online, use these tips to achieve better results from combating aphids with ladybugs:

  • Release lady beetles at cooler times of the day
  • Mist plants to encourage ladybugs to land on the plants to hydrate themselves
  • Repeat the above applications 

Birds

Birds-specifically chickadees and wrens-are excellent predators to use against aphids. How, though? Provide them with housing to keep them in the area. Small shrubs and trees will shelter them and allow them to make their nests.

Using Strategic Planting

I mentioned ways to kill aphids. Now I’ll cover some natural deterrents anyone can strategically plant to lure aphids into traps or repel them for good-companion planting.

Using strategic planting to prevent aphids

Ensure to dispose of dead materials when they fall off of plants. Otherwise, they might serve as shelters for aphids to harbor their eggs.

Plants That Attract Helpful Insects

If I was looking to pull aphids away from their host plant, the following plants are the best to use:

  • Clover
  • Mint
  • Dill
  • Fennel 
  • Yarrow

Plant these in valuable areas of the garden, for instance, near tomato plants.

Plants That Are Natural Aphid Repellents

The following are outdoor and houseplants that naturally repel aphids:

  • Catnip
  • Chives and garlic: these work when grown near rose bushes, peas, and lettuce plants
  • Onion 
  • Allium 

Plants That Help Trap Aphids

Here’s a list of garden plants that are great for trapping aphids:

  • Zinnias 
  • Cosmos
  • Dahlias 
  • Mustard
  • Asters
  • Nasturtium 

Root Aphids

As with regular aphids, root aphids also cause yellowed and curled leaves. A result of root aphids sucking on plant roots makes them susceptible to rot and various ailments. In addition to finding this insect pest beneath outdoor plants, herbs and indoor plants are also vulnerable to root aphids.

Unfortunately, unlike their above-ground counterparts, root aphids are harder to handle.

Natural Predators

There aren’t many species that can infiltrate them other than parasitic wasps and birds to combat root aphid eggs.

Beneficial Nematodes

When introduced to your soil, beneficial insects like nematodes will prevent the spread of root aphids while not harming species that are good for plants like earthworms. Indoor or outdoor plantings can benefit from nematodes.

Avoid Spreading Infestations

When planning to relocate or dispose of infected plants, make sure not to drop any soil. The infestation can spread to nearby plants.

What Do Aphids Look Like?

Here are some common ways to identify aphids:

  • Soft-shelled pear-shaped bodies with antennae.
  • Yellow, brown, black, red, or green, depending on their species.
  • Some species have a woolly or waxy appearance.
  • Tubelike structures protruding backward out of the rear end of their bodies (cornicles)
  • They’re 1-2 mm long.
  • There are some winged aphids-for example, woolly aphids.

Where Aphids Like to Live

Aphids like to live on primarily fruits and vegetables, some outdoor plants such as roses or chrysanthemums, and trees and bushes. The wingless aphids usually hide on the underside of leaves.

Here’s a fun fact: Aphids produce a sugary waste called honeydew. After a while, sooty mold will grow on this waste. Moreover, the honeydew attracts other pests like ants.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are frequently asked questions regarding handling an aphid problem.

How Long Do Aphids Live For? 

Aphids live between 20-40 days. Moreover, female aphids can live for 25 days.

How Do You Get Rid of Aphids Permanently? 

To permanently eliminate aphids, employ various preventative means to deter aphids from entering the garden-for instance, plant allium and catnip. Moreover, create an atmosphere that will attract aphids’ natural predators like birds or ladybugs.

To permanently keep away root aphids, introduce beneficial nematodes into the soil.

What Is the Best Aphid Killer? 

Diatomaceous earth is the best aphid killer and won’t harm your plants. Moreover, diatomaceous earth is deadly to other pests like ants.

Do Aphids Jump? 

Aphids don’t jump. Usually, aphids crawl to get to where they need to go. However, some generations of aphids may have wings to allow them to fly from plant to plant. 

Does Vinegar Kill Aphids? 

Vinegar will kill aphids by burning them to death by serving as a natural pesticide.

Do Banana Peels Keep Aphids Away? 

Yes, banana peels keep aphids away. Divide the peels and bury them an inch or two in the soil around the plant. Moreover, place the peels at the base of affected plants. Both methods will repel aphids due to residual insecticides on the banana peel when it was grown.

How Do You Kill Aphid Eggs in Soil? 

By releasing beneficial insects like nematodes into the soil, they will kill aphid eggs. Moreover, root aphids’ natural predators like birds or parasitic wasps will make quick work of the eggs.

Diatomaceous earth is another natural method that anyone can use for aphid control in and above the soil.

Can You Drown Aphids? 

Aphids can drown if fully submerged in water. Even though insects have different breathing mechanisms from humans, it is technically closer to suffocating than drowning.

Does Hydrogen Peroxide Kill Aphids? 

The extra Oxygen atom in hydrogen peroxide (H202) will attack organic blood cells. A small amount (3%) isn’t harmful to humans; however, it’s fatal to small insects like aphids.

Mix up the following in an empty spray:

  • 1/4 cup of 3% Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Two tablespoons of Rubbing Alcohol
  • 1/4 tsp. of wetting agent (dishwashing liquid will do)

Can Baking Soda Kill Aphids? 

Baking soda does kill aphids. Moreover, they will combat spider mites and whiteflies.

To create a baking soda mixture to kill aphids, use the following:

  • 1/3 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vegetable oil
  • Liter of warm water

How Do I Make a Natural Aphid Spray? 

Here are various natural aphid sprays you can make with stuff lying around the home:

  • Insecticidal soap and water: three tablespoons of castile soap and a pint of water
  • Neem oil: a tablespoon of neem oil, five cups of water, and 1/3 tablespoons of liquid dish soap
  • Garlic oil: a pint of water, a teaspoon of dish soap, four teaspoons of vegetable oil, and several minced garlic cloves. Anyone can also make a garlic spray to fight these insects.
  • Essential oils: combine four to five drops of various essential oils
  • Tomato leaves: soak a cup of two tomato leaves overnight, and in the morning, a leaf spray will be ready to combat aphids.

Do Aphids Live in Soil?

There is an aphid species that lives in the soil. They are grey-white and known as root aphids. The tactics used to kill these aphids are different from dealing with common aphids.

Final Verdict

An aphid infestation causes problems. Their honeydew causes mold, attracts ants, and hosts a myriad of other issues. To kill an aphid population, anyone can employ various methods, including attracting natural predators or using items from around the house.

Sprays that contain products like neem oil and other natural solutions can combat aphid infestations. However, using products like neem oil can seem contradictory because it might kill non-insect pests. Therefore, exercise caution when planting particular plants and use neem oil.


Featured photo by WikiMedia.