What are Aphids and why are so many of them?
Aphids are like miniature plant vampires that suck the liquid nutrients out of plants. They are tiny, almost invisible to the naked eye and soft bodied. Some are black, gray, white, brown, green, yellow and even pink. They are known for multiplying incredibly fast and can reproduce many generations in one season. You can identify them either by seeing them on your plants or you might notice your leaves are misshapen, curled or yellow. Aphids also leave a sticky residue on plant stalks after they have been sucking on the plants. This can attract another garden pest! Ants, who love to gather this sweet residue as food. You may often find ants defending the tiny aphid, so they can keep on producing the sweet nectar for the ants.
One of the most important things to control aphid infestations is to catch them early. If you don’t catch them early they can multiple and decimate a crop in no time.
Well, how to get rid of them naturally you ask?
There are some effective and easy methods to remove these little pests from your plants.
- WATER – Since these critters are so small and soft bodied, they can’t usually hold on with strong spray of water on the plant. Make sure to get the leaves underneath, where they like to hide. If knocked off, it’s hard for them to find their way back to the plant.
- FLOUR – If you have a lot of aphids you can try dusting your plants with flour, which constipates them and they will eventually stop eating your plants and fall off your plants.
- SOAP & WATER – You can use a few drops Castile or other type of pure soap and water and spray on the plant and reapply every couple days.
- NEEM OIL – Neem can be found at a garden supply and is a natural horticultural oil and is also good for powdery mold and other plant diseases. Read the instructions for proper use.
Well, how to you prevent them you ask?
- MOTHER NATURE – Insects such as ladybugs, lacewings, and parasitic wasps, will feed on aphids. Supplemental populations of these insects can be ordered online and should help keep the aphid populations controlled from the start. I saw them at Green Thumb in Ventura.
- COMPANION PLANTING – Aphids don’t like, catnip, garlic and chives. You can also plant mustard or nasturtiums as a decoy to keep them off your other plants, as they do like these a lot! Just make sure they don’t start jumping over to your edible crops.
- ANT CONTROL – A non-toxic method is to simply wrap the plant or tree with sticky tape or netting to control ants. This catches the ants and prevents them from tending to the aphids. In turn, the aphids are exposed to predators and their numbers will dwindle.
Best advise is to monitor your garden and check leaves health and if you notice small little dots on your plants tend to them early to get them under control.