advice from the front lines of the aphid battle!
One of the most common garden pests is the aphid. Many fruits and vegetables can be easily damaged by this small insect. However there are a variety of natural pest control techniques that can make managing your aphid infestation much easier and lessen the impact on your summer garden. And don't forget, aphids HATE winter, so over-wintering some veggies may be your best bet!
The real "trick" to dealing with aphids is to catch the problem early before they spread throughout your entire garden. Most often aphids start in one section or on a favorite plant and then as the population grows, they expand their range all over your flowers and veggie beds. Making a daily survey of the garden is key, as aphids start out on the undersides of leaves. It's easy to miss them if you aren't paying attention and they will quickly go from being on one plant to several and then from there they just keeping advancing.
About the Aphid
- Gordon's Aphid Page
An introduction to the biology and ecology of Aphids
- Awesome Aphids
Are colonies of little bugs covering the leaves and stems of your plants? Aphid populations have been high recently in the state, which is somewhat unusual this late in the season (normally the spring generations are more predominant). While you may
- MicroAngela - Aphid
Aphids are insects that are parasites on the roots, leaves, and stems of plants. Aphids have a proboscis which contains four sharp stylets which is used to pierce plant tissue and suck out the nutritive juices. Horn-shaped tubes at the rear end of th
My Aphid Battle Techniques
Although it's early in the gardening season, we've already found aphids in our garden.
One of the biggest reasons the backyard gardener gets aphids is that no one really has enough room to practice proper crop rotation. This involves letting areas lie fallow (unused) for a season or two, planting cover crops that deter pests and replenish soil nutrients. At my house, that would pretty much amount to not gardening for a year or two. So, we vary and rotate our crops as much as we can, and battle the aphids as we go.
If you've got some aphids on indoor plants, it's often really easy to just squish them with your fingers. They look like teeny green specs, almost not big enough to be insects. I had a housemate once who grew orchids and this was her preferred method for dealing with them. She said it relieved her stress too.
Spraying the aphids off of outdoor plants with a strong stream of water is also an organic method of pest control. This works well if you have larger and better established plants, and not just little seedlings or starts. Further down this lens you can also find insecticidal soaps, which are organic for humans and plants, but still lethal to aphids.
There are also beneficial insects that love to eat aphids. Ladybugs and green lacewings are the most common. We're going to release ladybugs into our garden this summer and see how that helps.
You can also plant "trap crops" as a way of dealing with aphids.
Organic Insect Soaps
Take a close look at an Aphid
Natural Aphid Management Techniques and Methods
- Aphid Control
Aphid control means 1) understanding what this pest looks like so you're 2) using the right technique to control the problem.
- Natural Insect Control: Aphids
Ants "farm" aphids often keeping them in their nest during winter, then bringing them out in spring and placing them on the host plant. The ants eat the honeydew the aphids produce and move them from plant to plant spreading any diseases that are pr
- Homemade Aphid Control - A Natural Way To Kill Aphids
Getting rid of aphids is no easy task. Large masses of them seem to appear overnight and without quick treatment, they can overwhelm and kill a plant. Using an organic, homemade aphid control is best for your plants, the environment and beneficial bu
- Green Lacewings for Aphid Control in your organic garden
The green lacewing is another one of the most effective predatory insect for aphid control in your organic garden and orchards.
- gardenpunks: Organic Aphid Control
I've talked a lot about the aphid problem with our yard. Yesterday, we made a visit to OSH to pick up a few thing Home Depot or Lowe's would never carry (ie. Horticultural Oil, Rooting Hormone), and we grabbed two tubs of Lady Bugs too.
Try Some Mantids
fight aphids by having them eaten
Mantids (or mantises) are insects which will eat aphids, much like ladybugs do. The best way to use these beneficial insects is to buy the unhatched egg cases and then let them hatch in your garden. As we get a lot of aphids in my backyard on the poppy flowers we grow, I'm going to nestle these in with the growing poppies, in the thick of the leaves so that hopefully when they hatch (about 2-4 weeks after it warms up enough) the baby mantids will come out and find an aphid buffet waiting for them.
A friend of mine raised mantids once so I know from his experience that about half the babies will be green and the other half will be brown. This is just a genetic coin flip but it work to make sure that some of the newborn mantises are the right color to stay camouflaged in the garden until they get large enough to not wind up as snacks themselves.
Tips for Using Ladybugs
Ladybugs love to eat aphids, so they are a nice element to have in the battle against aphids. An adult can eat up to 50 aphids per day. I got some at our local garden center and the woman at their info desk helpfully gave me some tips on releasing them into my garden. Here is a picture I took of the mesh bag with the bugs in it.
Ladybugs are kept in refrigerators by commercial garden centers to keep them in a state of hibernation. When they come out of the cold and go into the garden, their instincts are to fly around, find a mate, get busy and then lay eggs. It's this second generation of bugs from the laid eggs that really are the aphid-eating army the gardener is trying to establish.
She suggested I release the ladybugs in the evening and to spread them around in the garden near where we have our vegetables. She also suggested that I not release them all at once, but instead to put half in the garden, then put the rest back in the fridge, then do a second release several days later. This helps distribute the bugs in the garden and helps insure that some of them stay and make baby bugs before flying off or being eaten by something larger.
The ladybug life cycle goes from egg to larvae to pupa to adult, with each stage taking between one and three weeks each, depending on weather conditions. So if the ladybugs I release successfully mate and lay eggs, we'll get resident lady bugs being born from the end of June through August.
Garden Videos about Aphids
give the aphids what they want,so that you can get rid of them
If you can't beat an aphid, you can try joining it!
The theory behind trap cropping is that since bugs really love certain plants, you can use that love to lure the aphids away from other plants you're trying to grow. Trap crops can be planted right next to the regular crops, or in areas that are a bit away from what you are trying to protect.
Two of the plants that work best for this are nasturtiums and marigolds: they are lovely flowers and aphids go crazy for them. What you want to do is mix these blossoms in with your vegetables or plant them very nearby, and then when the aphids infest the flowers, you pull them up and dispose of them, aphids and all. By disposal, I mean you bag up the infested plants and throw them in the garbage. If you try to compost these bugs, they'll just leave the pile and go back to your garden.
You'll want to have successive plantings of the flowers so that you have grown ones to immediately replace the infested ones that get taken out of the garden.
Growing During the Aphid Off-Seasons
over-wintering vegetable crops
When I was growing up, I always thought of summer as the time when you gardened and never really gave a thought to the rest of the year. Now, as an adult who is interested in gardening, I've learned that there's a lot of gardening that goes on year-round, and this can be useful when fighting that backyard aphid!
Summer is prime aphid time, that's just a fact of weather. However, if you have certain crops that are really being attacked by aphids, you might want to investigate if it would work in your zone to grow some varieties in fall or over-winter. Fall and winter crops are planted late in summer or in the fall, and the vegetables mature during the cooler months or get established, take a few months off and then really get growing during the spring.
You may have to work more to protect plant seedlings that get going during late summer so that they can get a good enough of a headstart against the present insect population, but you'll have a lot less bugs to battle if you explore cool weather gardening! Once the first frost happens, the aphid population goes way down. Look for winter varietals of your summer faves and look into options like cold frames and cloches too.