Aphids are a pain. They love to eat the leaves of your plants and tend to show no mercy. Find out how to get rid of aphids naturally so your plants can become healthy again and stay healthy! Some of these ideas for how to kill aphids will be for indoor plants as well as outdoor, and some just for outdoor plants.
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Read for 3 ways to get rid of aphids naturally! (Image above is of an aphid-damaged artichoke leaf.)
What are Aphids?
Aphids are tiny bugs that are usually green or white and like to blend in with the bottom of the leaves. The easiest way to tell if you have aphids are 3 ways:
The first is to look at the leaves, as they will start looking splotchy from the top, where the aphids have been eating them. You might be able to see the aphids easily on the stem or bottom of the leaves of your plant. The other is to notice a white dust around the plant. This is especially easy to notice on indoor plants as it’ll be all over the table surrounding the potted plant. The third is that the leaves of the plant might feel crunchy, like they are drying out on the plant.
You might also see ants on the leaves, as they are attracted to the secretion from the aphids.
So how to kill aphids? Here are 3 easy ways! 1. Soapy water (with oil). 2. Ladybugs and plants 3. Neem Oil
1. Spray Soapy Water
Spraying soapy water is a really simple way to kill aphids. What you’ll need are: a spray bottle, dish soap, and water. That’s it! This is also one of the easiest to do and a fast remedy with items you have on hand or can easily find at a grocery store.
Put a small amount of soap into your spray bottle. (In the tiny spray bottle pictured, I do about 2 drops of soap, in a bigger spray bottle do the amount you would for washing dishes).
Then take your spray bottle and shake it to mix the soap in with the water. Next you’ll spray the plant. Aim for the bottom of each leaf or the stems, as the aphids live and eat the under side of the leaves and stems! Make sure you fully coat each leaf with the soapy water. This smothers the aphids.
Continue to do this for a few days (or longer) depending on if you continue to see live aphids on the plants. The aphid’s color will change when they are dead, so check for ones that are alive and moving. You may have to do spot spraying depending on if you still see aphids on one area of the plant.
Check your plant as new leaf growth appears to ensure new aphids aren’t making their way to the plant again. You can also be proactive for the future by planting other plants (read more in step 2!)
At the shop, one woman suggested I try mixing a few drops of oil in with soap to make this method for killing aphids even more effective. This seems to work even better, especially if you have a large amount of aphids. Mix a few drops of dish soap and oil (sunflower, olive, any cooking soap you have on hand) with water to fill the spray bottle. Then spray on the underside of the plants or wherever the aphids may be.
The next suggestion for killing aphids with this method is to come back to the plant about 10 minutes -2 hours later and spray again. By this time, the big aphids that weren’t killed in the first round will be moving to parts of the plant that were not sprayed (the top of leaves). Spray again at this point!
2. Ladybugs and Other Plants
The idea of growing other plants or having other plants nearby when you’ve got an infestation of aphids doesn’t sound like it should make sense. But it does! And the reason is to have ladybug attracting plants. This is a great way to get rid of aphids naturally, by having nature take care of the aphid problem for you. This option only works if the aphid-riddled plants are outdoors.
Ladybugs are one of the best bugs to have around when dealing with an aphid infestation outside, because ladybugs love to eat aphids. Some local plant nurseries will sell large amounts of ladybugs, which can be a good idea if you have a huge aphid infestation in your garden (like on roses). The one thing to note with this is to watch for birds/try to scare the birds away for a while after you’ve gotten the ladybugs into your garden.
To be more proactive or have already killed the aphids with soapy water and are worried about them coming back, grow ladybug attracting plants, like marigolds!
Ladybugs are attracted to bright, vibrant flowers and having flowers like that near a plant that often gets infested with aphids will give the plant some protection against them in the future. This option is not an immediate solution for getting rid of aphids, but is a good idea to have plants like these around your garden to help keep the aphids from becoming a big problem again!
3. Neem Oil
Neem oil is last on this list of how to kill aphids naturally. Because while it will get rid of the aphids, it can also harm other bugs as well. Neem oil works by ingestion, so the bugs will have to consume it, and then they will die.
It’s only suggested to use neem oil to get rid of aphids when you have a really big problem because it can cause harm to other bugs too. Instead, try the first 2 methods suggested, and use this as a last resort. Neem oil will also work if you’ve got a scale issue too!
Neem oil is a way to get rid of aphids naturally because it’s an oil found in the Neem tree and acts as an insecticide. It is generally considered safe for ingestion for humans by the FDA, so it’s okay to be around or put on produce plants.
You can find neem oil most likely at your local gardening center. When you decide to use neem oil, combine it with some soap and water in a spray bottle. If you don’t add the soap, the neem oil will separate from the water and not be diluted (the soap acts as a surfactant). Use about 1 tsp of neem oil per quart of water!
Spray on this mixture when other, beneficial, bugs like ladybugs are not likely to be around, so early morning, or at dusk.
This is not an extensive list of how to get rid of aphids naturally, but it does give a good idea of how to get rid of aphids, and one of these ideas should work!
I personally use the soapy water spray to get rid of even major aphid invasions.
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