Your plants seem to be a little more lackluster than you remember them being a week ago. The plants that were so vigorous until now are behind plants in different garden beds, and seem to be a little smaller or weaker. When you investigate more closely, you discover lots of tiny insects crawling all over the plant.
While aphids don’t necessarily spell doom for your growing season, they can cause a myriad of problems for your garden. These insects bite your plant, sucking the sap out of it and mixing their saliva in. By doing so, they weaken the plant by robbing it of the nutrition it has gained from the soil and sun, and at the same time greatly increases the chance of it getting a disease.
Aphids are one of those annoying bugs that are hard to get rid of permanently. Because they come back so frequently, you’ll want to think about your methods of removing them before trying to do so. Chemical pesticides can end up in your food supply if you use them for every little thing, but leaving the aphids alone could mean weak, diseased plants. Let’s take a look at some options:
Small amount of aphids? Simply hose them off.
A good rinsing will wash those aphids and their eggs off, hopefully never to return. This is a great solution if it is a small infestation, and often times all you need to rid yourself of the problem. Be sure to wash both the top of the leaf and the underside to get all the bugs off.
Another earth friendly solution is to purchase ladybugs and release them in your garden. These little bugs are harmless to people, beautiful to look at, and they love to eat aphids. This may not remove the aphids overnight, but it will cut the population over the long term, and is a highly recommended method of control.
If you are concerned about the ever declining bee population, you’ll want to avoid dousing your plants with pesticides that may cause them harm. Neem oil is harmless to nectar feeding insects such as bees and butterflies, but it does a number on aphids and other nuisance insects. It also works great on fungus, mildew, and a variety of other issues, so it is handy to have around.
The one draw back? It will kill caterpillars, including those from the butterflies we appreciate seeing in your garden. For this reason, avoid spraying it on milk weed or other plants you think might have butterfly eggs or caterpillars on them. This is the one pesticide I keep at the ready, but I do use it with caution.
If you have aphids in your garden, try one of these techniques to get your plants back to their previous glory.
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