Aphids

Aphids do not look alarming when there are only a couple hanging out in the garden. More times than not they go unnoticed until a plant is doing very badly. Then the gardener starts running through a mental checklist, especially those of us with busy schedules that rely on technology to maintain our gardens throughout the week.

  • Is the watering system working properly?
  • Did I plant that in the right spot?
  • Is it getting too much light? To much water?

It was so pretty when I bought it. What am I doing wrong?

Aphid Appearance

Then on closer inspection you spot the mass of small nearly translucent bodies covering the underside of the leaves. The little aphids are out of sight and out of mind.

A few aphids in the garden is not a problem. The plants immune system so to speak will heal the little holes they eat into it when they move on after the sap or honeydew has dried. It’s when the garden or a more often even just a single plant, commonly rose bushes, become infested with hundreds of the tiny little ¼ inch pests. 

There are nearly 4,000 species of aphids in the world. Some are only attracted to certain plants others have a wider appetite. 

Aphids can come in almost any color green, brown, white even pink. They have soft pear shaped bodies with long antennae. Most species of aphid do not generally have wings but when an area becomes overpopulated they can grow them to move to a new location. A gardeners worst nightmare.

Aphids on Crape Myrtle

Aphids Effect on Plant Health

Most species will be found on the underside of a plants leaves. This keeps them out of the sun and protected from predators. 

A few species like the grey-white root aphid will bury in the soil and attack a plants roots.

Constant assault from aphids and them being overpopulated in an area can lead to severe disease and death in plants.

  • Leaf curl
  • Misshapen leaves
  • Yellow leaves
  • Fungal growth
  • Sooty mold

Aphids can also carry disease from one plant to another. Aphids are the plant equivalent to ticks and mosquitoes for humans.  

They can also attract other unwanted bugs to the garden that prey on aphids. Ladybugs love to eat aphids, and no matter how cute they are I do not want a swarm of ladybugs in my yard anymore than the aphids.

Aphid Control and Prevention

Prevention goes a long way when it comes to garden pests. Regularly inspecting plants and not relying too heavily on timers and other time saving routines can make a difference. 

Be sure to inspect all buds, fruit and flower but pay close attention to the underside of leaves. 

Companion Gardening is one of our favorite things. We know its not for everyone. But when it comes to low maintenance routines having a balanced garden is a big help.

Plants with certain smells are less appealing and tasty to most aphids. But with so many species it can still be tricky. Most pest don’t have a specific species just for beans, cabbage, melons, potatoes, but aphids do. So here are some of the most common plants to deter and repel aphids. 

Aphid Deterrent Plants  

  • Marigolds
  • Catnip
  • Lavender
  • Fennel
  • Dill
  • Garlic
  • Chives
  • Cilantro
  • Oregano

Some plants are hardier and act as a trap for aphis. These plants will tolerate the abuse and heal themselves quicker. They are also cheaper than other aphid favorites.

Aphid Trap Plants

  • Sunflowers
  • Nuestriums
  • Mustard

Other Aphid Deterrents

Sometimes it may be as simple as hosing the pest of off the plant. Often times the aphid will not find it’s way back to the same plant. For example roses are an aphid favorite and the rose bush is the only plant being infested.

There are chemicals on the market for everything. Dust pest control products are quick and simple way to go. Again we know that not everyone wants unsightly powder spread on their plants for the neighbors to see. If you are willing to use a powder form for control you may also want to try

Powder Products from the house

  • Flour
  • Baking Soda
  • Borax
  • Epsom Salt
  • Diatomaceous Earth 

Spray Mixtures you may have on hand

  • 1 part white vinegar to 3 parts water
  • Rubbing alcohol and water
  • Neem oil
  • Epsom Salt and water
  • Liquid dish soap, cayenne pepper and very little water

Banana peels chopped up and buried a couple of inches under the soil are said to prevent aphids as well. I have never tried this for pests, but it is a trick I personally use on my rose bushes a couple times a year to provide them with more nutrients. So it is worth a try.

We hope your gardens flourish and are pest free. As always give us a call if you are in Northwest Arkansas or Southwest Missouri and your yard or garden serviced. Feel free to email or reach us on any of our social media platforms even if you don’t live in our area and have a question.