You put a lot of time and care into your garden. However, aphids can destroy all of your hard work within a few weeks. There are multiple methods you can use to get rid of them.
You can get rid of aphids through the use of formulas, such as the Compare-N-Save Systemic Tree and Shrub Insect Drench, naturally using live insects like ladybugs or lacewings, or even using various forms of insecticidal soap.
So, if you want to keep aphids out for good, keep reading on to find out how to keep these sap-sucking insects away from your plants!
The Best Formulas and Sprays to Get Rid of Aphids
Formulas and sprays are a WONDERFUL thing for pest control. Generally, they’re simple to apply and can have a great effect on your garden or lawn while being cost-effective.
Here are some of the best sprays that can help you get rid of aphids and or keep them away!
What better way to get rid of aphids than to have the tree or plant do so itself?
This systemic tree and shrub drench by Compare-N-Save is designed specifically for use on aphids, borers, beetles, and others by allowing the formula to be absorbed by the tree/shrub itself.
Once absorbed, the drench, containing insecticide, will fill the sap of the plant with insecticide making it repulsive to aphids!
Of course like any product, you’ll want to carefully read the instructions to get a good sense of how much you should use because it will be dependent on what type of plant you’re using it for and how big it is.
This bottle product from Bonide uses small granules to protect your plant. Their patented formula gets soaked up by the roots of the plant and absorbed right into their system!
Basically, it’s designed for non-edible indoor plants and works to protect your plant by boosting its defensive system. Aphids eat the sap of plants, so the formula which is now being taken and put out by the plant goes directly into the aphids when they snack on your greens.
To use it, follow the instructions on the package (make sure to read the cautionary info) and pour it the granules into the base of your plant! After some time, you should notice fewer aphids eating your plant.
Another 3 in 1 product, this Neem oil concentrate from safer claims to control aphids, spider mites, whiteflies, blight, turf diseases and more.
Thanks to it being a 3 in 1 (fungicide, miticide, and insecticide) its, able to keep your plant safe from diseases while getting rid of aphids. To touch on the ridding of aphids part, there is a strong amount of evidence that neem oil can do just that.
Better yet, this concentrate claims to be compliant for organic gardening. A nice added bonus!
Usage for this will vary, as it is a concentrate and will have to be mixed. Make sure to take a detailed read of all instructions upon ordering, and to wear the proper equipment when applying (heavy clothes, gloves, goggles and application gear.)
The Bayer Advanced 2 in 1 Insect Control Plus Fertilizer Plant Spikes from BioAdvanced feeds your plant vital nutrients and claims to deter pests and parasites for up to 2 months.
Essentially, it’s designed to be used on indoor and outdoor potted plants, but not for large garden areas (unless you want to buy multiple spikes for your garden.)
To use it, you will need to remove one spike from the package and load it into the easy-to-use applicator tool. Insert the spike into the plant’s pot and use the tool to push it down into the pot. You’ll need to read the guide on the back of the product to see how much you need to use for your specific plant.
Listed as for organic gardening, this neem oil-based product from Bonide claims to be a “3 in 1” solution as a fungicide, miticide, and insecticide.
Essentially, what that means is that it works against the egg, larvae and adult stages of the insect all well protecting the plant from fungus!
Now, this oil DOES come as a concentrate, so it will need to be mixed before using it. Additionally, there is some other information you’ll definitely need to read on the back of the package because, like many of these products, usage varies based on your use and or how much you need.
Another 3 in 1 solution that protects your plant from fungus, mildew and insects. I’ve come to learn a bit more about these over the years and these 3 in 1 solutions.
If your plant has any sort of stink or smell to it then this can help keep you covered along fulfilling our primary purpose here, which is to deter aphids!
If organic is your thing, then the main ingredients of sesame oil, edible fish oil and lecithin should peak your interest.
As I’ll always say, if you go this route READ THE BACK of the bottle and make sure that this can apply to your specific situation as something else may suit you better.
If you have a large garden and little time to manage it, you may want to try this little product from BioAdvanced.
Overall, it promises to keep your trees and shrubs safe from pesky insects for an entire year and comes with a measuring cup that you can use to measure out the amount you need for your garden and apply it.
Bio-Advanced has a set of instructions on the back that will tell you how much you need to pour for your plant. After you figure out all that good stuff you can finally, sprinkle the water with the product around the base of the tree or shrub or in the container that the plant is in.
Hopefully, you should see a decline in the number of aphids on your plants as this product does its work.
As always, make sure to read the cautionary information on the back of the packaging as well. Unfortunately, there are some states where this product can’t be shipped to, with NY being one of them.
Neem oil is an essential ingredient that can repel aphids, ants, and other crawling/flying insects. You can purchase a variety of different neem oil-based products, such as the GrowSafe Bio-Pesticide Natural Miticide.
Simply put, this is a neem oil that you dilute with water in order to make your own repellent. GrowSafe claims for this to work for a variety of pests and specifically, aphids.
Neem oil can unfortunately repel away good kinds of insects too, the ones that you want near your plants and garden that help it grow.
But if you’re in a pinch and NEED to get rid of those darned aphids, than this can possibly help you out quite a bit.
Natural Ways to Get Rid of Aphids
While there are sprays and repellents to get rid of and deter aphids, sometimes people want to enlist into more natural methods to keep their garden aphid free.
Below are some of the best natural methods you can use to keep these pear shaped critters off your plants.
Use Essential Oils to Deter Aphids
Just like Neem oils, aphids are not fond of the scent of essential oils. To aphids, the essential oils themselves can affect the inhibition gland of the insects causing them to want to stay away from the plants.
One study found that certain essential oils did in fact deter the feeding behavior of aphids when those essential oils were placed on plants. The researchers found that the oils with the most aphid deterring properties were:
- Spearmint oil
- Thyme oil
- Pennyroyal oil
- Mint oil
- Peppermint oil
Of course, you’ll need to take into account the effect that essential oils can have on your plants and surrounding environments (it gets very oil and situation specific.)
So if you decide on an oil, or maybe even have some sitting in your cupboard, do your proper research before using the oil!
If you need a few places to start looking for oils, you can start your search here:
- Artizen Spearmint Essential Oil
- Gya Labs Thyme Essential Oil
- Plant Guru Pennyroyal Essential Oil
- Rose Valley Land Mint Essential Oil
- Sun Essential Oils Peppermint Oil
Garlic Essential Oil and Garlic Plants
Most insects can be repelled by strong smells and aphids are no exception.
One study (link to study) found that while using fermented garlic oil and neem oil together to deter aphids, there was a significant difference between the field with garlic oil / neem oil and the field without. In this study, it’s important to note that the researchers used fermented neem oil in addition to the garlic oil.
Additionally, there’s some evidence that the actual garlic plant itself can be useful in keeping aphid populations low. Garlic can potentially attract more ladybugs to your crop, which will, in turn, eat aphids while and before they begin to really multiply.
Overall, you may want to plant some garlic just for the heck of it because it’s a pleasure to have around your garden anyhow!
Use Sticky Traps To Catch Flying Aphids
Aphids and ants share a symbiotic relationship that is beneficial to them but not your plants. The ants will protect and move the aphids as long as they are able to have access to the sweet honeydew that aphids make (YUM.)
To solve the problem, use sticky traps to prevent the ants from assisting the aphids. Without the ants, the aphids will not be able to travel to other plants quickly and they will become vulnerable to certain predators, like ladybugs.
The Faicuk 20-Pack Dual-Sided Yellow Sticky traps are great for flying aphids. For large plants or trees, use the included wires to hang the sticky trap from the branches.
For smaller plants, you can place the trap on a stick and insert the stick into the ground next to the plant to help scoop up any aphids that land on it.
Another product that claims to work well is the Tanglefoot Tangle Trap Sticky Coating. Essentially, this is simply a sticky coating that you can apply anywhere! Well, in most places, I guess not ANYWHERE.
To use it, first, you will need to stir the product up with the included brush. Next, apply the coating to the item you want to use as a trap. Finally, hang your created trap near the infested plant or off of one of its branches to snag anything that jumps on it!
Use Ladybugs to Get Rid of Aphids
If you have an aphid problem, you can use an aphid-eating insect to remove them, like ladybugs!
Ladybugs enjoy eating aphids and are actually good for your plants (a big reason is that they eat aphids.)
What’s even wilder is that you can order ladybugs ONLINE and have them DELIVERED right to your door! Specifically, I’m referencing the Live Ladybug Package by Nature’s Good Guys.
Essentially, this little care package contains live ladybugs that you release on the plants in your garden.
The whole setup comes with an instruction packet, so you will know how many you need for your garden specifically.
The ladybugs may fly off on their own after they have finished eating all your aphids, so you do not have to worry about removing them afterward. Ladybugs are friendly creatures which makes them safe to use around pets and kids.
To use this product, simply follow the instructions on the packet. According to Nature’s Good Guys, you want to make sure to keep the eggs in a cool place such as your refrigerator, but for no longer than two weeks.
They also say not to expose the ladybugs to direct sunlight or freeze them. When it is time for you to release them, open the bag near the areas where the aphids are but do so at dawn or dusk. This way, the ladybugs can get to the aphids quickly and start eating them without getting exposed to sunlight!
Lastly, ladybugs will also eat moth eggs, mites, aparagus beetle larvae, whiteflies, and other slow-moving insects. So yes, they’re great for your garden health overall!
Lacewings Can Help by Eating Aphids
Lacewings are another natural predator to ladybugs. Surprisingly enough again, you can order lacewings directly online with the Green Lacewing eggs 5000 kit.
Simply put, similar to the ladybug package, this product gives you 5,000 lacewing eggs to place in your garden and hatch into Lacewing larvae.
According to Nature’s Good Guys (the makers of the lacewing kit), you need to place the bag on the limb of the infected plant or disperse the eggs inside the plant’s pot along with the provided rice hulls that come inside the package.
After that, the lacewings should hopefully do the rest of the work.
The main difference here is that with the ladybug package, you’re getting the actual live ladybugs so you literally only have to release the package where you need to.
Make sure to follow the instructions exactly; otherwise, the lacewing eggs may not hatch at all. If you are not using this product immediately, you can store it in the refrigerator at 40-46°F (4.4-8°C) for no more than ten days.
After 10 days however the eggs may not hatch!
Overall, I would reccomend the ladybug package since they have a bit more proven efficacy, and they get delivered live to your door so you don’t have to worry about them hatching.
Get a Birdfeeder to Attract More Aphid Eating Birds
If you do not want to spend money on ladybugs or are not fond of the idea of lacewings in your garden, you can use birds to get the job done.
You can view a list of birds that eat aphids here.
You can draw the birds over to your garden by planting trees to encourage nesting, building a birdhouse, or hanging a bird feeder to bring birds to your garden.
If you’re going to get a birdfeeder to start drawing in birds, I would reccomend one like the Squirrel Buster Mini by Brome.
You want a birdfeeder that makes it hard for a squirrel to jump on so that you don’t lose any extra bird seed to squirrels.
If you want to get even more specific, you can review that list of birds above that eat aphids and put a similar type of bird feed that they are known to like, in your feeder (granted that type of bird is in the area.)
The birds may fly off after feeding or hang around in your garden, but they will hopefully help your plants a bit!
Of course, this method isn’t as full proof as the ladybugs or even lacewings, but it can be a nice alternative.
Other Natural Products To Get Rid of Aphids
Sometimes, the thought of ordering live bugs may be a bit too extreme for some that want to go the natural route. I mean that’s the MOST natural you can get.
The good news is that there are other natural products that can help to get rid of aphids that don’t require the live ordering of insects.
Overall, HARRIS is a GREAT and reliable brand. However, their diatomaceous earth isn’t specifically marketed for aphids, and many aren’t.
In contrast, this diatomaceous earth can be very beneficial for the ants that come to feast on the honeydew left by the aphids, which can leave the aphids more vulnerable without the ants to protect them from predators like ladybugs.
So, what is diatomaceous earth?
Basically, diatomaceous earth is a substance made from sedimentary rock that contains silica, alumina, and iron oxide that is sharp to insects upon touch.
This fine powder is great for many insects but has mixed results for aphids. Specifically, because aphids can shed their outer layer of skin once it gets damaged by the diatomaceous earth.
However, the diatomaceous earth, if continuously applied, can possibly help to prevent the aphids from multiplying by having an effect on their young, who are much weaker than the adult aphids. This will possibly slow down the multiplying of aphids tremendously and may in time break down the adult aphids as well too.
In order to make your best guess on if diatomaceous earth can work against Aphids see the effects of diatomaceous earth on aphids, you can watch this video here!
Like I said earlier, another reason we want to use diatomaceous earth is because of the ants that are attracted by the sap that aphids extract from plant leaves. Ants don’t have tough outer shell-like aphids do, so the diatomaceous earth will have a more profound, faster effect.
Using soap as an insect repellent isn’t really a secret. In fact, there’s even a bit of evidence that this practice has been around as early as the 1800’s.
For insects that don’t have a hard outer shell, soap can act as a corrosive agent and disrupt the outer layer of the insect’s skin.
Ideally, you should use a soap designed for getting rid of insects, such as the Garden Safe Brand Insecticidal Soap.
Make sure to apply this product to the leaves of the plant, as this is where aphids and larvae like to hide.
This is a simple method to get rid of aphids and ants, but it is a temporary one. If your garden has a bad infestation, the aphids may come back to your plant after a few days.
The only issue with this type of spray is that it’s a contact spray so you have to actively be spraying the plant routinely until the infestation is gone.
Why Aphids Are Bad for Plants
Aphids are very small insects with bodies shaped like pears. Generally, Aphids use the tube like structures in their mouths to feed on the sap that is inside the leaves of a plant.
Not only are aphids MASSIVE eaters, but they also do not need to mate to reproduce! Talk about a scare.
Aphids multiply EXTREMELY fast. they give birth to many aphids at a time and go through their birthing cycle every 1-2 weeks at least.
Getting even deeper into it, some aphid species have the ability to fly. Certain species of aphids are born with wings that they at first don’t use. However, if their eating grounds become too crowded, they can develop wings and fly off to another plant!
Once they find a new leaf to munch on, they remain there until that space becomes overcrowded. This means that aphids in your garden are constantly multiplying and migrating across your garden, which can lead to a large infestation of aphids.
Aphids come in many different colors such as green, white, brown, and more. There are over 4,000 species of aphids, but only 250 of them can impact your crops.
Aphids and Ants can Takeover Your Garden
Ants are another issue that you will have to deal with if you have aphids on your plants. When the aphids suck plant sap, they create honeydew, which is a sweet nectary substance consisting of glucose molecules (stuff that ants love.)
Since the aphids love the ants for caring for them, the ants will protect the aphids from predators and will move the aphids to other plants in your garden so they can continue to eat and reproduce.
In return for their protection, the aphids will continue to provide the ants with the honeydew that they crave. This mutually beneficial relationship can create bigger problems for your entire garden if you don’t take care of the situation early!
Fortunately, aphids are not very hard to get rid of completely. Their tiny size and affinity for plants provides you with a lot of options that you can use to get rid of them.
Depending on how bad the infestation is, you may need to use more than one of these above methods to completely remove the aphids from your garden.
That’s a Wrap!
Aphids can destroy your plants and ruin your garden but with the right tactics, you can stop them!
- You can use natural methods to remove aphids without causing damage to your plants. Use Diatomaceous Earth, soap, and water or garlic to naturally remove the aphids.
- You can enlist the help of aphid eaters to get rid of aphids and other pesky insects. You can use ladybugs, lacewings, or birds to get the job done.
- Repellent sprays and stickies are a quick method for getting rid of aphids and in some cases can help prevent them from returning. Use sprays, granules, or liquid aphid repellents to remove them and keep them out.
A plant requires sap to keep on growing, but aphids feed on this important nutrient which unfortunately drains the life away from your plants. Following these methods can help plants keep their sap inside and get rid of aphids once and for all (or until you run out of repellent!)
Nixon, G. E. J. (1951). The association of ants with aphids and coccids. The Association of Ants with Aphids and Coccids.
Kaplan, I., & Eubanks, M. D. (2005). Aphids alter the community‐wide impact of fire ants. Ecology, 86(6), 1640-1649.
Offenberg, J. (2001). Balancing between mutualism and exploitation: the symbiotic interaction between Lasius ants and aphids. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 49(4), 304-310.
Zack is a Nature & Wildlife specialist based in Upstate, NY, and is the founder of his Tree Journey and Pest Pointers brands. He has a vast experience with nature while living and growing up on 50+ acres of fields, woodlands, and a freshwater bass pond. Zack has encountered many pest situations over the years and has spent his time maintaining and planting over 35 species of trees since his youth with his family on their property.
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