Aphids on Your Plants? How to Get Rid of Aphids Permanently

Written by AZ Animals Staff
Published: July 20, 2022
Image Credit Vera Larina/Shutterstock.com
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One way to keep your garden beautiful is by planting different flowers and plants and doing some landscaping. However, did you know that aphid infestation can take away the vibrance of your garden?

Aphids are small insects that crawl on the stem, leaves, and roots of a plant. They feed on the plant’s sap by piercing through the branches and leaves using their sharp mouthparts. Failure to get rid of these small annoying insects affects your plants, causing holes in the stems and leaves, and can lead to drying.

So, what should you do when your plants are infested with aphids? Besides chemicals that can negatively affect the plants, are there other natural ways to remove them? Keep reading to find out everything about how to remove aphids from your plants.

What Are Aphids?

Aphids are waxy, pear-shaped, tiny insects that feed on plant sap. They belong to the superfamily of Aphidoidea and are about 1/16 of an inch long. These insects are available in various colors depending on the species.

The common types are the green aphids, which are destructive. It is hard to notice them because they blend perfectly with the plant. So, gardeners take time to get rid of these insects, leading to rapid multiplication and causing more damage to the plantations.

The other common types are yellow, red, gray, and brown aphids. There are also black and white aphids, which are easy to notice and remove. Some aphids, mainly females, have wings. The wings grow when there is an overpopulation to enable the females to go to other areas and breed. Once you identify signs of aphid infestation, you need to find ways to remove them.

aphids
Aphids are waxy, pear-shaped, tiny insects that feed on plant sap.

schankz/Shutterstock.com

How to Identify Aphids on Plants

The first step in eliminating aphids is to identify them. You can see the insects or signs of aphid infestation on your plants. One of the signs that your plants have aphids is the weakening of the leaves and stem because these insects drink the plant’s sap. Other ways to know you have aphid infestation in plants are:

1.      Crawling Insects on the Plants

It is hard to notice green aphid infestation on your plant, but when you check closely, you can see the crawling insects. Other aphids are red, yellow, and black, making them easily visible.

When inspecting the plant, check for the wingless aphids and those with wings. Also, the aphids with wings fly easily to other areas and can spread to other plants in the entire garden. They feed on most crops, trees, shrubs, and flowering plants.

aphid swarm on plant
Aphids are generally green, but can also be red, yellow, or black. If you see hordes of black insects on your plant, they could be aphids.

Paul Maguire/Shutterstock.com

2.      Your Plants’ Underside of the Leaves

Aphids do not occupy the top part of the leaves only. They also feed on the underside leaf, which most gardeners don’t check. Look closely to see if there are any tiny crawling insects. Also, if there are flying aphids around your plant and you cannot spot them on the top leaves, they are probably on the underside.

Most people believe these insects enjoy feeding on succulent leaves, fruits, and vegetables, but they are not picky with what they feed on. So, regardless of the plants you have in your garden, make sure you inspect them.

aphids on underside of leaf
Aphids don’t just attack the topside of leaves – be sure to check the underside as well.

jamaludinyusuppp/Shutterstock.com

3.      Curling and Discoloring of the Foliage Is a Sign

Sometimes, you don’t have to inspect the plant to see the tiny insects. Some cause a lot of damage to the plant and lead to curling and discoloring of the foliage. These insects can also spread other diseases to your plant, making it look weak.

If there is curling of leaves on your plants, check if there are aphids. Other signs of aphids on plants are tiny holes in the edges and veins of the leaves. The insects are also more common during warm climates like summer.

curled leaves
Curled of discolored foliage is a good sign aphids have been in your garden.

SrideeStudio/Shutterstock.com

Damage Caused by Aphids

Gardeners should try to get rid of aphids as soon as they see signs of infestation. Leaving them for extended periods can cause worse effects like drying and the death of your plants. Some common damages caused by aphids are:

1.      Holes on the Leaves

Aphids use their pointed mouth parts to get sap from the plant’s leaves and stems. When they gather on the plant, they leave tiny holes on the leaves. They also attach to unopened buds, flowers, and stems to suck plant sap.

Besides holes on the leaves, the other signs of aphid infestation in your garden’s plants are twisted and curled leaves, stunted or poor plant growth, and yellow foliage. You could also notice dead shoots on your vegetation.

2.      Honeydew

When the aphids are sucking the plant’s sap, they inject saliva into the plant to make it easier for them to create the holes. The leaves are left with a sticky and shiny product called honeydew.

Honeydew has sugar, attracting ants and yellowjackets that feed on it. It coats the plant’s leaves, barks, lawn instruments, and furniture. Since the honeydew is sticky, it causes sticking together of the leaves, leading to mold and poor respiration.

How to Remove Aphids Manually

Although aphids infest the plants in big numbers, you can remove them manually. This method takes a long time to get rid of the insects, but it is safer. This is because using objects could harm the plant, and chemicals cause more damage.

1.      Pick Them Using Your Fingers

Once you notice these insects on the plant’s leaves, pick them with your fingers and crush them. Their soft bodies make it easy to dispatch with a single squeeze. You can also use a wet paper towel to wipe a group of aphids from the plant’s leaves.

But, don’t handle aphids with your bare hands. Ensure you wear protective gloves before picking and crushing them with your fingers to protect your skin from irritants.

2.      Use a Garden Hose to Spray the Leaves

If you cannot pick the aphids with your hands, an alternative way is using a garden hose. Spray water on the leaves under high pressure to dislodge these insects. Ensure you also direct the pipe on the underside of the leaf to remove any insects hiding on those parts. When using this approach, do not use excessive pressure; otherwise, you might break the plants.

You can use your garden hose on the leaves twice a day until there are no more aphids on the plant. Don’t forget to check the other plants in the garden for aphid infestation because they breed fast and can attack the entire vegetation.

Ensure you wait for the leaves and soil to dry between the sprayings. Pouring too much water on the plants can cause them to rot.

3.      Cut the Tree Branches with Aphids

If the infestation is almost impossible to remove by picking and spraying with a hose, a better way to eliminate these annoying insects is by cutting the branches. But, you must ensure that the branch has the most insects before plucking it.

Once you cut the branch, dip it into an aphid repellent solution to kill the insects. You can also do selected pruning on certain infested leaves or fruits to avoid cutting an entire plant’s branch.

Remove Aphids Using Repellents and Pesticides

Sweeping the aphids off the leaves using your hands, spraying water on them using a garden hose, or cutting the tree branch may not be a sustainable solution. The alternative is using repellents and pesticides.

1.      Use a Homemade Soap Solution

Mix dish soap with warm water in a spray bottle to eliminate aphids. You should apply the solution to parts like leaves, stems, and fruits with signs of aphid infestation. The soap makes the insects dry out and does not affect the plant.

You can make your solution stronger by adding cayenne pepper. Then, spray the plant parts with signs of insect infestation. The solution also kills other harmful insects to the plant, making it more effective.

2.      Mix Essential Oils

Another way to get rid of aphids in your garden is by spraying the plants with a mixture of essential oils. Mix four drops of rosemary, clove, orange, peppermint, and cedar in a spray bottle and add water.

Spray a little essential oil on each of the plant’s leaves and let it stay. These oils are safe for the plant and won’t cause adverse effects. The oils are repulsive to aphids, and the insects will either die or leave. It also works on other bugs on your plants.

But, always ensure you dilute the oils with enough water to prevent blockage of the leaves, reducing respiration.

3.      Use Commercial Insecticide

Commercial insecticides should be the last resort to eliminate aphids if the other methods have failed. Insecticides contain chemicals that can quickly cause drying and dying of the plant and are also harmful if sprayed on fruits and vegetables.

Read all the instructions on the insecticide before spraying it on your plants. Also, use the amounts as directed by the manufacturer.

Conclusion

Aphids can cause massive damage to your vegetation and be removed immediately after identification. When looking for any infestation, check the leaves’ upper and lower sides and the plant’s bark or stem. You can manually remove the insects using hands and hosepipes, but mixing essential oils is another perfect solution.

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About the Author

AZ Animals is a growing team of animals experts, researchers, farmers, conservationists, writers, editors, and -- of course -- pet owners who have come together to help you better understand the animal kingdom and how we interact.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Are aphids harmful?

Aphids don’t usually cause a lot of damage to the health of the plants.

How can I kill aphids?

Insecticidal soaps and oils are the best ways to remove aphids from your plants.

Why did my plants get aphids?

Poor soil conditions and weather conditions like drought are the most common reasons why a plant gets aphids.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.

Sources
  1. The Spruce, Available here: https://www.thespruce.com/how-to-get-rid-of-aphids-2539837
  2. University of Minnesota Extension, Available here: https://extension.umn.edu/yard-and-garden-insects/aphids#tree-and-shrub-aphids-316411
  3. Garden Design, Available here: https://www.gardendesign.com/how-to/aphids.html
  4. Garden Betty, Available here: https://www.gardenbetty.com/organic-pest-control-101-7-easy-solutions-for-getting-rid-of-aphids/
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