Gardening is a rollercoaster of experiences which don’t always consist of pleasant ones. Sometimes you’ve got to deal with diseases, weeds and pests to keep your garden nice and alive.
A usual suspect and common pest among gardens, are aphids. These sticky insects feed on plants’ vessels and cause gradual destruction of your greens. They can do more than just damage the plants, and for multiple reasons nobody wants them in their gardens.
We’re not trying to disappoint you. There’s a solution to every problem out there, same goes for aphid infestation. You can defeat them and keep those pesky insects at bay for long, long times. Remember to follow experts’ advices correctly and as accurately as possible to reach maximum immunity at your garden!
What is an aphid?
Before you beat an enemy, you need to know what they are. Aphids (from Aphidoidea family) are basically tiny insects with squishy bodies equipped with suckling mouth segments. This is literally what allows them to suck out plants’ sap. They mostly gather in groups along plant vessels, leaves and buds, basically wherever sap is at its highest concentration.
Thousands of aphid species have been recognized to this day, but green aphids cause the most damage since their ability of camouflage does a pretty neat job at blending them with the surrounding plant tissues.
Aphids tend to breed in insanely high numbers (about 6 million eggs per breeding session) and this is the reason behind their massive population at gardens. Problems arise at this enormous infestation; it will lead to plant yellowing, wilting, death, and at worst cases, those insects would welcome ants into your garden and transport pathogens or diseases among plants, making everything go downhill as if the infestation itself wasn’t enough.
Most aphids are host-specific; which means they prefer their specified plants over others. For example, potatoes are more prone to be infested with vegetable aphids than roses. In case of fruit trees and vegetable gardens, you might be dealing with peach aphids. These species stick to the surface of undeveloped fruits, leaves and young stems of trees and vegetables (such as corn, spinach, lettuce, melons and cucumbers) and destruct them slowly.
How to Get Rid of Aphids?
Prevention always comes before treatment; you need to keep a constant eye on everything to make sure no infestation occurs whatsoever. In case of aphids, always check young buds and stems for any signs of unusual stickiness or presence of tiny insects. If you catch any symptoms, make sure to act early. This will prevent the problem from getting worse.
However, aphid-contaminated plants are still savable. You’ve lost nothing as long as plants are simply infected all over and have not wilted yet. Safe and natural routes will help you deal with the issue without harming your garden or yourself.
Here are some tips on dealing with aphids that might be useful to you.
1. Avoid Over-fertilizing.
In most cases, aphids are attracted to young tissue of plants such as new leaves, tender stems and buds. These areas are where nitrogen is accumulated at its highest, and if you’re wondering what can cause an excessive nitrogen concentration, fertilizer is the answer. Fertilizers basically are used to induce plant growth by increasing the amount of nitrogen, but if it gets out of hand, that high concentration will backfire.
2. Water Them Properly.
Plants aren’t sitting there defenselessly for the pests to do all kind of damages. In fact, when watered properly and adequately, plants will produce their specific toxins which helps repel and defend the tissue against pest contamination. Water deficiency is the main reason why aphids strike hardest during hot summers.
3. Invite Biological Guards.
Certain plants such as dills, single-head bloomers such as cosmos and cluster bloomers such as basil do a great job at keeping aphids at bay. You can also plant pollinator-attracting flowers around your garden to attract beneficial insects such as wasps and ladybugs. These insects will naturally defend your plants against those sticky, unwanted pests.
4. Spray Your Plants with Pest-Repellant.
If prevention doesn’t keep aphids at bay or you’ve noticed their infestation when damage is done, you’ll need a plan B: treat the infestation. There are tons of products (chemical and natural) and substances for this matter. Basically insect-repellant, these products can be utilized to kill aphids, grasshoppers, ants, whiteflies and whatnot. Browse through your local agriculture shop and see what products will work best for your condition. Our recommendation is Safer Brand Soap (basically a mild soap) that repels pests when sprayed onto surfaces. Make sure to avoid using synthetic chemicals around harvest time.
For severe cases of aphid attack, you can add some pyrethrins or neem oil to the solution of choice. These nature-based components will repel and/or kill aphids effectively while ensuring safety for you and your plants. These substances are also usable for mosquito or roach infestation as well.