How to get rid of aphids naturally
Another thing to watch out for with aphids is they excrete something called honeydew, which encourages sooty mould growth (and ants!).
"The honeydew also attracts sooty mould, like a black powder that grows on the dew," says Kevin.
"This can cause problems with photosynthesis and the plant. The black powder covers the leaves, stopping the sun from getting to the leaves, so the plant doesn't get enough light."
Luckily, there are some things keen gardeners can do to get rid of aphids.
How to identify aphids
Signs you have aphids in your garden include:
- Distorted leaves or leaf drops.
- Wilted shoots and seedlings
- Failure to fruit
- Ants or sooty mould
- white aphid skin casts on leaves
3 ways to get rid of aphids without chemicals
Aphids are challenging to control if you don't get on top of a colony quickly. The problem with using pesticides is they can kill off beneficial insects as well as the pests.
If you feel compelled to spray something on plants infested with aphids, reach for the garden hose instead and blast them with a forceful jet of water.
Otherwise, here are some ways to kill aphids naturally.
1. Chili and garlic spray
This handy solution is a chilli-and-garlic spray that gives plants armour against aphids, flea beetles, caterpillars, cabbage worms and a host of other chewing and sucking insects.
To make the spray, blend:
- 1 onion, minced
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 Tbsp dried chilli
- 1 tsp pure soap (not detergent) in 4L of hot water.
After letting the spray sit for a day or two, strain the mixture and apply the liquid to plants using a sprayer. The spray, which repels insects, must be reapplied after rainfall. Avoid standing downwind when spraying a chilli solution. Wear gloves and goggles.
Read the full instructions here.
2. Soap spray
Another natural spray is this soap spray. Add 2 tablespoons of soap flakes to 1 litre of water into a spray bottle and spray the leaves (don't forget the undersides). Spray again a few weeks later to remove any aphids that have emerged from eggs and survived the spraying.
The good news is that it can control aphids without insecticides.
Lacewings, ladybirds and parasitic wasps are some of the most abundant and powerful natural enemies of aphids. In fact, a ladybird can consume 5000 aphids in its life.
Natural aphid enemies can be ordered online and sent in plastic containers, and you can release them onto your plants. Visit Bugs for Bugs.
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