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Aphids – 9 Natural Ways to Get Rid Them From Your Garden

Aphids are small, destructive pests that can destroy your garden before you know it! But luckily, there are 9 all-natural ways to rid these pests and keep them away without using harsh chemicals.

closeup of green aphid on a leaf

What Even Are Aphids?

Aphids are tiny pest insects that most gardeners have had to address at one time or another.

There are over 4,000 different aphid species and their color can range from green to white to black.

Aphids suck the sap from plants, namely, young growth.

However, minor infestations usually don’t create a lot of damage.

Aphids are capable of rapid asexual reproduction, though, that can turn minor infestations into major ones in a matter of days.

Heavy aphid infestations will cause plant leaves to yellow, wilt, and eventually effect overall plant health.

ants following aphids on a plant

In addition to the damage they create by eating the sap from healthy plants, they excrete a sticky substance called honeydew. This honeydew attracts mold and ants, which do additional damage to the already-weakened plants.

The good news is, there are a number of natural, organic ways to prevent and treat aphid infestations.

1. Manual Removal of Aphids

If your aphid problem is on the smaller side, you can simply go out to your garden once a day and manually remove any aphids you see, paying special attention to the underside of the leaves.

If an infestation has already gotten out of control, it may be easier to snip off the effected leaves, or cull the entire plant and dispose of it well away from your garden.

If your plants are more mature, you can spray them with the hose which will knock the aphids off and hopefully drown them.

2. Soap and Water

Dilute a few tablespoons of dish soap in a small bucket of lukewarm water. Using a sponge, or a spray bottle, apply diluted soap water to the plants effected by the aphids.

The soap dissolves the waxy protective coating from the aphids’ bodies, dehydrating them and eventually kill them.

NOTE: This will also kill off and repel beneficial insects, so use with caution.

3. Neem Oil

Neem oil works in the same way as the soap, however it is organic. Dilute a few tablespoons in a few cups of water and spray on the effected plants.

Neem oil has the added advantage of repelling other garden pests such as mealy bugs, cabbage worms, ants and caterpillars.

It also prevents the spread of many types of fungus on your plants.

I especially like the use of neem oil on orchards for everything from pests to diseases.

4. Essential Oils

Blend together equal parts (4 or 5 drops) of thyme, peppermint, clove and rosemary essential oils. Dilute in a small spray bottle filled with water.

This not only kills an active infestation is help repel future generations of aphids. It can also be used on yourself as an all-purpose bug repellent.

Lady beetle eating aphids
Lady beetle eating aphids

5. Attract Beneficial Insects

One of the most natural ways to deter aphid and other pest insect infestations is to introduce or attract beneficial insects to your garden.

 Ladybugs (lady beetles)lacewing eggs and praying mantises can be purchased online and released into your garden.

If you don’t want to purchase your beneficial insects, you can attract them to your garden with companion plants that they enjoy.

See my post on companion plants for a list of the plants that attract beneficial insects.

6. Attract Predatory Birds

Smaller birds will often snack on aphids. Create a welcoming environment for wrens, chickadees and titmice by building houses for them, putting out a water bath and bird feed specific to wrens, chickadees, titmouse and warblers.

In the late Spring-early Summer birds of all sorts are working overtime to feel hungry hatchlings, so that means providing a great nesting area for birds will mean more hatchlings to feed and more mamas, picking off the aphids to feed them.

In addition to nesting boxes, try planting some shrubs or blueberry bushes. The instead bushes make a perfect, protected place to make nests.

aphids on the underside of a plant

7. Dust Plants With Diatomaceous Earth

If you know you’ll have a few days of sunshine, try dusting your plants, especially underneath the leaves, with food-grade Diatomaceous Earth.

There are two theories about why this works.

One is that, microscopically, Diatomaceous Earth is very sharp and will physically scratch the protective exoskeleton of insects.

The other theory is that, because it is so fine and dry, it sticks to them and dehydrates them.

Others believe it’s a combination of both.

The good thing about using Diatomaceous Earth is that it’s completely natural. It’s made up of the fossilized remains of marine phytoplankton.

It’s completely safe for humans and mammals (dogs, cats, etc) to eat and has no negative side effects.

Spray the plants first with water. This will knock some of the aphids off and will help the Diatomaceous Earth stick to the plant.

Make sure to sprinkle some around the base of your plants to repel future aphids and other pest insects.

8. Homemade Garlic Spray

Garlic is a potent antibacterial and antifungal agent, and is a natural pest repellent.

Combine three or four cloves of minced garlic and two teaspoons of grain alcohol. Let steep for at least 24 hours.

Strain out the solids and pour the liquid into a spray bottle. Mix two tablespoons of garlic liquid to one pint of water.

Note: this garlic spray will also harm and repel beneficial insects.

9. Homemade Tomato Leaf Spray

This is used much in the same way as the garlic spray, however it won’t harm benficial insects.

Tomatoes are part of the nightshade family, which means their leaves contain toxic compounds called alkaloids.

These alkaloids are toxic to aphids, but safe to use around plants and other animals.

Chop up a cup or two of tomato leaves and add them to two cups of water. Let this mixture steep overnight. Strain the leaves from the liquid and add the liquid to a spray bottle.

Note: if you’re allergic to plants in the nightshade family, use this spray with caution.

Of course, sometimes, you are plagued with much more invasive and annoying pests than aphids. Fleas, roaches, rats, and other pests can get into our gardens and even into our homes, and sometimes, it takes much more effort to get rid of them. In this situation, the above natural methods may not work and you may need to enlist the services of Nextgen Pest Solutions.

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Sophie

Sunday 1st of October 2017

Can i spread the base of my plant with chopped garlic mixed with turmeric to deter Aphids?

Lauren Dibble

Tuesday 3rd of October 2017

Definitely try it! I would worry if you get a lot of heavy rain, it would damper any repelling properties, but it would be easy to add it again!

Jeanette W

Friday 15th of September 2017

I read somewhere that banana peels spread in your garden will deter aphids, so I gave it a try and haven't seen an aphid since. I had an active infestation at the time, so I had nothing to lose. I was shocked that within days they were all gone. I now send the kids out with banana peels ripped into strips a few times a week to keep them away.

Lauren Dibble

Friday 15th of September 2017

No way!! I've never heard of that, but I'll definitely be giving it a try. That's awesome!

PJ

Monday 31st of July 2017

Could you tell me what this means (#4), "This not only kills an active infestation is help repel future generations of aphids."

Margy

Sunday 11th of June 2017

I find planting marigolds among my crops helps, especially with kale. I'm going to try your tomato leaf spray this year since I have plenty of tomato plants to borrow leaves from. - Margy

Lauren Dibble

Sunday 11th of June 2017

I've had great luck with the tomato leaf spray! Let me know how it works for you