This post will cover what aphids look like and how you can treat your plants to remove the pest from them. It will also cover preventative measures you can take to ensure the pest doesn’t return.
What Do Aphids Look Like?
Aphids are small, soft-bodied insects that seem to find their way into almost any garden at one point or another. They are typically green but can also be black, yellow, brown, gray, pink, or white. The insects are very small, the adults of which will typically be just shy of 1/4 long. Their bodies are shaped like a pear or a tear-drop and they have long antennae. Depending on the variety, they may have a waxy coating.
While most aphids are wingless, there are a few species that will grow them if the plants get too crowded, allowing them to quickly move to a new food source. They also have cornicles (short tubes) that stick out their hinds.
What Do Aphids Do?
Aphids will target any vulnerable areas of your plant, always preferring to feed on new growth instead of mature foliage, which is tougher to eat. Aphids typically stay clustered together as they eat meaning that an infestation could do a lot of damage very quickly to your plants. They also carry plant viruses and can spread them to other plants in your home.
Aphids multiple very quickly which means as soon as you notice their damage, you should begin to remove them as soon as you can to prevent further generations from causing additional strain on your foliage. If your plants are outdoors, you may not see an issue overwinter as the insets will stay in their eggs until spring, but indoor aphids and those in warmer climates may still have issues.
Symptoms of Aphids on Your Plant
Aphids can cause a lot of damage to your plant as they seek out and feed on the vulnerable areas. If you notice the following symptoms, you may want to look for the bugs:
How to Remove Aphids From Your Plant
To remove aphids from your plant, you will need to remove them individually and control them with a spray. Here is what you need to do:
The first thing you should do whenever you notice an infestation with one of your plants is to quarantine it right away. This will hopefully help prevent the spread of aphids to other plants in the area. Once the affected plants are separated, make sure to thoroughly clean the area where your plant sat.
If your plant is larger and more mature, take it outside (if it isn’t already) and carefully spray down the leaves, stems, and the plant in general with a hose. While this probably won’t remove all of the aphids, it should remove a good number of them in a quick period of time. Try to spray them in a driveway or another area where the water can quickly drain before the pests find a new host plant.
If your plant is fairly young or delicate, simply move to the next step.
Put on protective gloves and examine your plant thoroughly. Prune off any areas of the plant which have become overly sicky from the effects of the aphids. You can also remove any other portions of the plant that are covered in aphids if you see fit.
Once you have completed the pruning, look for leaves or branches with aphids, try to knock them off into a bucket of soapy water (which should kill the aphids right away).
Use a spray bottle with water with a few drops of mild dish soap (such as Castile soap). Spray the leaves of the plant gently and wipe them down with a cloth. You can also add a pinch of cayenne pepper to the spray to make it a little more aggressive to the insects.
Alternatively, you can use neem oil or insecticidal soaps to clean your plants. Make sure that you follow the instructions included with the packaging.
Dust your plant with flour thoroughly. After eating the flour, any remaining aphids will become constipated.
Repeat the process every 10 to 14 days until you have defeated the aphids.
WHEN TO DESTROY/GET RID OF YOUR PLANT
At some point, you may realize that you will need to prune most of your plant in order to get rid of the damage or you can’t seem to get rid of the aphids no matter what you try, you may need to destroy or get rid of your plant.
If you live in an area where they can live outside, you may be able to set them out on your patio (so long as there are no other plants nearby that they can harm) and introduce one of their predators to feed on them. Some of their predators include ladybugs and lacewings.
How to Prevent Aphids in the Future
There are a few things you can do to try to prevent aphids in the future. Look into the following:
Quarantine New Plants
When purchasing or receiving new plants into your home, take some time to thoroughly check over every part of the plant for any sign of insect activity. Even if you cannot find it, it is a good idea to quarantine the new plant away from any others in your home for at least two weeks. That way, you can be sure that you aren’t infecting your other plants if there is a problem.
Create an Essential Oil Spray
Create a natural spray with essential oils. Mix 5 drops each of clove, peppermint, thyme, and rosemary into a spray bottle of water. Spray your plant with the mixture once every other week to target adult aphids and prevent them from wanting to venture into your space.
Introduce Beneficial Insects
If your plants are outside, introduce beneficial insects to your garden. These may include parasitic wasps and ladybugs. They will target and eat your aphids, working to remove them from your plants.
There are few plants that naturally repel aphids. Placing them near your other plants may help keep them away for the long term. A few of the companion plants are as follows:
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