Aphids can be quite a nuisance in the garden, munching on your plants, and spreading like crazy from one plant to another. Here are 3 tips for organic aphid control.
Obviously, if you have an aphid problem, gaining control is crucial to keeping your garden healthy! Is there a way to get rid of them organically, without resorting to harmful chemicals?
You bet! Here are 3 good ones suggested by the High Performance Garden Show.
1.) The first organic aphid control technique is simply patrolling. In the garden while you are watering, harvesting or doing some other chore, take a moment to look closely at your plants. Check the undersides of the leaves and all of the hidden nooks and crannies. What do you see? Pay close attention to any aphid eggs lurking on the plants. Whenever you see a cluster, squish the eggs with your thumb. Simply by keeping an eye out and paying attention to potential problems as soon as they start, more often than not you will be able to keep the aphids at bay.
2.) Unfortunately, just patrolling the garden doesn’t always work. When the aphids are more of a problem that just a little patrolling can take care of, it’s time to bring out another method. The second organic aphid control technique is spraying Safer Soap. This soap is based on potassium fatty acids and is used to control many plant pests. It coats the bugs and prevents them from breathing. It only works when it covers the bugs. You will mix up a spray bottle full and coat the plant with a special attention to problem areas.
You will need to spray two times a week to eliminate the aphids at first, and then once a week after that to keep them in control.
3.) Another great option for organic aphid control is to use beneficial insects! Particularly ladybugs and the not-as-well-known aphidius parasitic wasp. The ladybug in its adult stage can eat up to 5,000 aphids! These are fun to release into the garden with your kids.
The ladybug starts out as eggs and then hatch into their larva stage. In this stage they can eat about 400 aphids before the pupal stage. After the pupa stage they emerge as the adult ladybug we know and love. The first three stages range in length from 7-21 days depending on food supply and the weather. The mature ladybug stage can last between 3-9 months depending on weather, length of hibernation, food supplies and predators.
The Aphidius parasitic wasp works best in greenhouses. The parasitic wasp finds aphid colonies from a long distance by the “alarm signals” produced by an infected plant. At shorter distance it smells the honeydew. The adult Aphidius feeds on honeydew. When the wasp is ready to lay eggs she finds a host aphid to deposit one egg in each aphid.
One female Aphidius can deposit an egg in up to 300 aphids in its 2-3 weeks as an adult. The wasp pierces the back of the aphid with its ovipositor, leaving a small, barely visible reddish mark. She then lays an egg in the aphid which, upon hatching, feeds without affecting the aphid at first. From within the aphid, the wasp larva will cut a small hole in the aphid and glue it to a leaf with a silk. Then the wasp larva will spin a cocoon around the aphid body. The larva will pupate inside of the aphid. At this stage, parasitized aphids can easily be recognized as swollen, papery, and a silvery brown colored – also called a mummy. When the wasp is mature, it will cut a circular hole in the skin of the now dead aphid, and emerge as a winged adult.
These simple techniques have been used in the High Performance Garden Systems for decades – and you can use them in your garden too! They have been proven to keep the bugs away without disturbing the delicate ecosystem that the plants thrive in like many pesticides do.