How to Control Aphids in Your Garden
By: Julie Day
Aphids are small, soft-bodied insects that colonize and feed on many types of garden plants, causing damage to leaves and shoots and spreading disease. As garden pests go, they can be difficult to spot, but not all that difficult to control.
Here’s what you need to know to deal with aphids in your garden.
Aphids thrive in warm weather, and in mild climates they can be active all year long. Although they may just look like tiny specks on your plants, aphids are actually small, soft-bodied insects that pierce the stems and leaves of plants to draw out juices. This not only causes damage to the shoots, but can also transmit viruses and diseases from other plants.
After feeding, aphids excrete a sugary substance called honeydew, which coats the plant and quickly invites the growth of mold and fungus.
How to Identify Aphids
Aphids are small, slow-moving insects that may resemble specks of dirt. To spot an aphid infestation on plants, look for:
- Plant Damage: Aphid damage often causes a distortion, curling, or yellowing of young shoots. The honeydew quickly turns black with fungal mold growth.
How To Control Aphids
A few aphids generally don’t cause much of a problem, but if the colony grows, it can begin to damage plants. Aphids are easy to control using organic means, and chemical pesticides aren’t necessary unless the infestation is severe.
Here are some tips for getting rid of aphids:
- Organic Fertilizer: Since aphids prefer tender shoots, they can be attracted to the lush, soft growth caused by overuse of nitrogen fertilizers. Instead, use slow-release organic fertilizers or compost that promote more steady growth.