How to Get Rid of Aphids, GARDENS NURSERY

How to Get Rid of Aphids

How to Get Rid of Aphids

If you grow plants in your yard, greenhouse, as houseplants, or in a flower or vegetable garden, the time will come when getting rid of aphids will become a necessary chore. Nearly every single plant has some species of aphid that feeds off it at times, so virtually no plant is immune to them. Although many species of aphid exists, controlling them is the same for all.

Aphids, Ants, and Honeydew

Aphids can live on plants for quite some time before their damage becomes noticeable. It is often when conditions are right and these insects multiply into dense populations that they begin to cause serious problems, and gardeners then begin thinking about getting rid of aphids. Even though they are very tiny insects, once they begin forming these large masses, it is hard not to spot them, especially on the undersides of leaves and at the areas of tender, new growth.

Once you embark on getting rid of aphids, you also get rid of their honeydew. The so-called honeydew substance is a thick, viscous liquid secreted by aphids that ants find highly attractive. This is why ants are so often found wherever aphids have taken up residence.

Ants feed on the honeydew and attack any beneficial insect that may come along that is a natural predator of aphids. This makes it important to treat the area for ants as well as for aphids.

Chemical Treatments

Applications of insecticidal soap, neem oil, or narrow-range oil all do a good job getting rid of aphids. The trick is to check the plants regularly and treat accordingly. One treatment rarely kills all the aphids and their eggs, so by checking all plants once a week, the gardener fares much better in determining whether or not subsequent treatments need to be applied.

These products do kill existing beneficial insects as well as the aphids, but they do not leave a toxic residue, so beneficial insects returning to plants are not adversely affected.

Natural Treatment

Another method of getting rid of aphids is to simply wash them away. Blasting with a strong spray of water from the hose washes away not only the aphids but their ant-attracting honeydew secretions, as well. Of course, you need to take care to turn the water on to the undersides of all leaves and to not spray with such powerful force as to damage the leaves or other parts of the plant.

When using water as a way of getting rid of aphids, do so early in the day. This is true of any water-based application to plants whether indoors or our outside in the garden or yard area. The idea is to allow enough time for any water to dry completely off the plants in order to prevent diseases that come from fungus developing.

As long as the conditions are right, moderate to high humidity and warm temperatures, getting rid of aphids will be on most gardeners agendas. Although you will most likely never completely rid your plants of them, at least you can keep them under control.

Aphids and Tomatoes

Aphids and growing tomatoes seem to go together like summer and sunshine. If you find this troublesome combination in your garden, read on to find out ways people use (and what not to use!) to get rid of those sap-sucking little pests that eventually always seem to turn up in even the best-tended gardens at some time or the other.

The Inevitability of Aphids

Although it has not been scientifically proven, aphids and tomatoes seem to come together when gardeners have a propensity to over-water or over-fertilize. Humid conditions seem to attract aphids (and as a result, ants), as does feeding your tomatoes too well.

Before you haul out the hose or the tomato food, keep this in mind. Water only as much as your tomato plants actually needs and do the same about feeding them. Too much of a good thing often turns into a bad thing, and finding a thriving population of aphids on your tomato plants is one of those bad things.


Many folks pull the sevin dust off the garden shed shelf, thinking this chemical will do the job to cut the connection between aphids and tomatoes. It won’t. Neither will the liquid form of sevin. Sevin will, however, kill many beneficial insects that actually prey on aphids, so only apply sevin if you intentionally want to help out your population of pet aphids.

Aphids fall under the category of insects that suck sap, and sevin works far better on insects that chew, so save the sevin for the caterpillars and other chewing pests you find in your garden, if you are intent on using it.

Don’t Go Buggy Over Aphids

To get the job done of severing all ties between aphids and tomatoes, malathion, diazinon, Dursban, orthene, and pyrethrins make up the heavy artillery of chemical pesticides that kill nearly everything, including aphids, in your garden. You may be leery of eating tomatoes sprayed with such heavy-duty killers, however, and reading the labels on each of these chemicals containers may prevent you from using these on tomatoes.

Developing cancer on down the line is just not worth the perceived need to kill bugs in the garden, no matter if they are aphids or some other insect. If you must use a chemical, try insecticidal soap, instead. It is far less potent, which means it may not kills as many aphids, but it also may not kill YOU!

The safest means of parting the ways between aphids and tomatoes lies in an ordinary garden hose. By simply spraying off the bugs, you not only not risk poisoning beneficial insects, you never have to worry about ingesting anything toxic yourself.

You do need to take care not to set the spray too hard, or you will damage the plants. And you will also be re-spraying the plants, especially the undersides of the leaves and anywhere there is temptingly tender new growth, every few days. This can be somewhat of a hassle, but considering the alternative, is it really?

Aphids and tomatoes as a duet can be a pain in the neck, but it is not the end of the world. Leaves curling and dying cause most damage seen from aphids, and the unappetizing thought of accidentally biting into a tomato with aphids on it is not pleasant. But think about what you are doing before you do anything, and let the simplest remedy be your best solution. Considering just spraying those aphids off, and then enjoy the rest of your gardening day!

Homemade Aphid Control

Aphids are a common garden pest that can be deterred by the use of homemade aphid control. Aphids are sometimes called “ant cows” because they are often seen in the league with ants. The ants actually keep them and feed on a substance the aphids produce, called honeydew.

When ants move from plant to plant and take their aphids with them, they spread any type of plant diseases that may be present. The aphids themselves suck the juices from the plants and multiply rapidly. There are a number of methods of homemade aphid control that have been found to be effective.


In many cases, homemade aphid control does not harm beneficial insects, such as ladybugs and their larvae, lacewings, praying mantis, and others. These beneficial insects eat aphids, so you don’t want to use anything that will harm them. Some homemade insect sprays are somewhat toxic, though, so you will need to exercise caution in using them.

One simple thing you can try if you typically have aphid problems in your vegetable garden is to grow a row of nasturtiums. Aphids will prefer them to the food crops, particularly if the nasturtiums have yellow flowers. This method of homemade aphid control is called planting a “trap crop.”

Water Treatment Method

Another homemade aphid control method is to simply give the plants that are infested a hard spray of water from the hose each evening for a while. This discourages the ants and knocks the aphids off the plants, killing some. It has no effect on beneficial insects such as lacewings. One homeowner tried this method, and was delighted to see the lacewings simply jump off the plants momentarily while the aphids and ants received their “treatment.”

Foil Method

There are some other simple forms of homemade aphid control that don’t require putting together a concocted bug spray. (We will get to concocted bug sprays in a moment.) Try laying a flat square of aluminum foil at the base of your plant. This will cause light to bounce upon the lower sides of the leaves, which the aphids will not like. Also, it is reported that a bright yellow pan of water will attract aphids, which will then drown in the water. Try adding a drop or two of dishwashing liquid to ensure that the insects drown.

Soap Spray

One of the simplest sprays you can make for homemade aphid control is a soap spray. To each gallon of water add a tablespoon of castile soap. Let the soap dissolve into the water, then spray away. Soap causes the surface tension of water to be reduced, which makes it able to be absorbed by the exoskeleton of an insect. Without soap, water simply beads up on the side of an insect. With soap added, water is absorbed into the insect, which in turn drowns.

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Herb Sprays

Some herb teas also act as homemade aphid control, but you don’t brew these like you would a cup of tea for yourself. For instance, take a quart of stinging nettles herb and cover with water. Put a lid on the concoction and let it set and ferment for about three weeks. Strain off the strong brew. For spraying, dilute this tea by adding a cup of the brew to seven cups of water.

Other Sprays

A similar recipe is to chop up a couple of cups of the leaves from tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, tobacco, or other nightshade family plants. Make the homemade aphid control liquid by letting them soak overnight in two cups of water. In the morning, strain off the liquid and add two more cups of water to the liquid. Use this liquid in your spray bottle.

Another simple recipe for a homemade aphid control spray is to add a cup of isopropyl (or rubbing) alcohol to a quart of water. This spray can damage tender leaves and is not recommended for delicate plants like African violets.

How To Get Rid Of Aphids In The Garden

This post may contain affiliate links, my full disclosure can be read here.

Are you wondering how to get rid of aphids in the garden?

Don’t worry although aphids can cause a lot of damage to your plants they are easy to get rid of. Using natural ways to control them such as water, insecticidal soap, or neem oil is very effective.

Aphids are one of the most common garden pests in home gardens.

They can cause a lot of damage quickly to your plants.

But the good news is they are actually one of the easiest pests to control.

The first thing you’ll want to do is learn how to identify aphids so that you know this is the pest you are dealing with.

Then you can use organic methods to control them.

What Are Aphids?

Aphids are small, soft-bodied insects that suck sap from plants.

They are found in just about all growing zones and a common pest for gardeners. Aphids can have many generations in one season and can quickly become a bad pest so it’s best to get them under control quickly.


Aphids are very tiny insects and often hard to notice in your garden. The adults are less than 1/4 inch (6.35 mm) in size.

They have pear-shaped bodies and long antennae. There are many speeches of aphids and they can be found in many colors such as green, white, grey, black, brown, yellow, and pink.

Most types have two tubes (called cornices) projecting from their backside.

Adult aphids are normally wingless but they can develop wings when they become overcrowded. This lets them move to a new feeding ground easier.

Are There More Than One Type O Aphid?

Aphids will feed on a wide range of plants but there are some types that are specific to certain types of plants.

  • Bean aphids
  • Cabbage aphids
  • Melon aphids
  • Potato aphids
  • Green peach aphids
  • Wooly apple aphids
  • Pear aphids

Aphid Damage

Both the nymphs and adult aphids feed on the plant juices.

They attack the leaves, buds, stems, flowers, fruit and even roots. But the damage can depend on what type of aphid you are dealing with.

Aphids tend to prefer to eat on tender new growth so that’s a good place to start looking for damage.

The first sign you have an aphid problem is the odd appearance of the leaves. They start to look curled, misshapen and yellowish.

Then the leaves will often turn a red color and look like the leaves are blistered.

If you see these signs in your garden make sure to check on the undersides of the leaves for aphids.

If the leaves or stems are covered with an odd sticky liquid this is also a sign that aphids have been feeding on your plants.

This sugary liquid often called “honeydew” is a waste of the insects.

It often attracts other insects such as ants because they like the sugary taste. Ants will actually groom and care for aphids just to collect the honeydew they make.

Sometimes this sweet liquid also causes sooty mold to grow, making leaves and branches look black.

How To Get Rid Of Aphids In Your Garden

1. Water Spray

When you find aphids on your plants the first thing you should do is spray them with a strong stream of water.

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This dislodges them from the plants and often they can’t find there way back.

2. Neem Oil

Neem oil is a natural repellent for aphids and many other garden pests. But it can also repel beneficial insects to so take care in how you use it.

This natural oil interferes with insect hormones and makes it harder for them to grow and lay eggs.

3. Insecticidal Soap

Insecticidal soap is a really easy way to control aphids too. You can buy it premade or make your own. Just remember to apply it under the leaves where the aphids are hiding.

4. Diatomaceous Earth

Food grade diatomaceous earth (DE) is an organic powder that will kill aphids and any other insects that comes into contact with it.

This powder is very sharp to them and causes cuts in their exoskeleton making them dry out.

It’s easy to sprinkle on plants as needed but not quite as easy to apply to the undersides of the leaves where aphids normally hide.

Get diatomaceous earth here.

How To Prevent Aphids

1. Proper Watering

Aphids are often attracted to plants that are stressed by lack of water. So after removing the aphids make sure that you are watering your plants consistently.

2. Kill The Eggs

To help keep aphids off trees and shrubs you can spray them in the winter with a horticultural oil that will kill the overwintering eggs.

3. Beneficial Insects

Creating a balanced habitat in your garden that attracts beneficial insects is a great way to reduce aphid damage.

There are many insects that feed on aphids such as lady beetles, parasitic wasps, and lacewings. You can even order ladybugs and parasitic wasps online to get started.

4. Companion Planting

Companion planting can also help to lower aphid problems in your garden.

Some bugs just don’t like certain plants, and some plants help to mask the scent of others making it harder for the pest to find them.

Plants that repel aphids are:

Along with companion planting, you can use trap crops to lour them away from your important plants.

Aphids love nasturtiums and mustard so planting these in a corner of your garden can help keep aphids off your other plants. Then when you see them starting to damage your trap crop you can spray them to get rid of them easily in one place.

Active Time
20 minutes

Total Time
20 minutes


  • Water
  • Neem oil (optional)
  • Insecticidal soap (optional)
  • Diatomaceous earth (optional)


  1. When aphids first arrive on your plants use a strong spray of water to dislodge them. Many will not find their way back to the plant.
  2. Neem oil is another organic pesticide that works well for both killing and preventing aphids. Spray the leaves of your plants following the directions on the bottle. Make sure to get under the leaves where aphids hide.
  3. Insecticidal soap is a cheap option for killing aphids too. Spray the leaves remembering to get the undersides as it has to contact the aphids to work.
  4. Diatomaceous earth works well to kill many insects including aphids. Try applying it as a liquid so that it’s easier to get under the leaves. Once it dries it will be effective.

How To Prevent Aphids

  1. Water your plants constantly. Plants that are stressed for water are more likely to have aphid damage.
  2. You can kill aphid eggs before they hatch by applying a horticultural oil on trees and shrubs to kill overwintering eggs.
  3. Encourage beneficial insects such as ladybugs, lacewings and parasitic wasps in your garden by planting flowers and herbs that attract them.
  4. Use companion planting to help prevent aphids. Plant herbs such as catnip, chives, dill, fennel, and cilantro or vegetables such as garlic and leaks to repel aphids from plants. Marigolds help too and look very pretty in your vegetable garden.
  5. You can try using trap crops such as nasturtiums one of their favourite flowers to feed on in a corner of your garden to lour them away from your other plants.

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Kim Mills is a homeschooling mom of 6 and lives on an urban homestead in Ontario, Canada. Blogging at Homestead Acres she enjoys sharing tips to help you save money, grow and preserve your own food.

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