Featured, In the Garden

5 Ways to Say, “Get Lost, Aphids!”

I was alarmed to find aphid honeydew (aka aphid secretions) on my spinach last week. These little creepy crawlies send me into fits. Last year, they did a number on my okra, devouring it into oblivion. It seems that an enclosed raised bed like mine is great for keeping big bugs, slugs, and animals out, but the little aphid mafia still seem to be getting inside. Not only that, the enclosure hinders benificial insects from coming in to eat them. I was able to hold off the aphids temporarily last year by blasting them with water, but that didn’t help for long. I even tried buying and releasing ladybugs in my garden enclosure, but in spite of following all the rules on the package to welcome the little spotted darlings, they quickly flew the coup, and then couldn’t get back in even if they tried (which they didn’t.)

So when I saw the aphids’ calling card this year, I decided I would have to work out some other alternatives to water blasting and ladybug coercion. After a good deal of internet research, here are the non-chemical methods I’m putting into practice this year:

Aphid Spray

    1. Vinegar Spray
      There are several different homemade sprays that can be concocted to combat aphids, including a garlic oil/soap spray (something I will consider making, but I’m holding off as I don’t like the smell of garlic,) tomato leaf spray (which I’m definitely trying once my tomatoes are mature this summer,) and what I’m currently using – vinegar diluted in water. I’m using this sparingly, since some sites say this works like a charm, and others say it’s a great herbicide (not exactly what I’m going for.) So, if you decide to use the vinegar spray, test it out in a small spot first and wait a day or so to make sure your plant tolerates it OK.
    2. Banana Peel
      Banana Peel to repel aphids
      Aphids hate bananas! Who knew? If you finely chop a banana peel and then plant the peel around the base of the affected plant, the aphids will get the hint and go away. When I read this, I quickly ran to the kitchen, enjoyed a little banana snack and started choppin’ and plantin’.

Foil Blinds Aphids

    1. Aluminum Foil
      If you’ve ever made battle with the aphid, you know that they love to hide out on the underside of leaves. If you place foil around the base of your plant, it will bounce sunlight off the foil and onto the underside of the leaf, blinding the little suckers. Yeeha!

Yellow Plastic Bowls lure aphids

  1. Yellow Plastic Bowls??
    That’s right folks, aphids looove the color yellow. apparently, if you place a yellow plastic bowl filled 1/3 with water, the little boogers will spot the bowl, crawl over, and jump into the swimming pool of death and drown. Bwahahahaha!
  2. Plant a Sacrificial Plant
    If you have had a particular veggie or flower drained of its life force by aphids before, chances are it will again. Consider including a plant you know aphids love the best a little ways away from your other plants in the hopes that the aphids will choose that plant or flower over the others. It’s a risky operation, but apparently it works. So if you’re OK with one of your babies taking one for the team, it may be worth a try. I have planted two ranunculus flowers near my spinach in the hopes that they will sing their siren song to the aphids. We’ll see if it works.

So I’ve decided to throw scientific method out the window and try all 5 of these methods at once in my garden. Sure, I’ll never really know which method worked the best, but I felt I should come out with guns blazing.

Here are some of my sources from my research:
Organic Aphid Sprays – Two Homemade Sprays For Fighting Aphids 
9 Extraordinary Uses For Bananas
Natural Aphid Pesticides: 10 Eco-Friendly Ways to Repel Aphids
Controlling Aphids

What are your favorite methods for combating these dastardly critters? I’m always game to try out more ideas! 🙂

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46 thoughts on “5 Ways to Say, “Get Lost, Aphids!””

  1. Ewww ew ew ew ewwwww I would be soooo upset if anything left trails on my produce. Specifically slugs, I have a phobia..it’s weird I know. I will be coming back to this post if I see aphid gooze for sure!

    1. Aphid gooze looks like little dew drops. What’s really gross is that once ants realize it is there, they crawl all over the plant because they love the aphid honeydew. Ick!

      1. slugs and snails love beer! If you fill up a tuna can or something similar, about half way with any beer then bury it where you have slugs. Bury it so its sticks out about half and inch or so, they will find their way in, get drunk then drown. When your can is
        full empty and do it again. They just cant help themselves…..little drunks….

      2. I use epsom salt and never have slugs. Just sprinkle it around your plants. It is also good for the plants. Double win.

    1. I tossed out three small mini rose plants that had been given to me because they were eaten up in about one week. The petunias around one of them are doing poorly too, could they have the same problem?

      1. Aphids do target petunias, too. Give the banana peels a try….or maybe a soap or garlic spray that I’ve linked to here. Hope you are rid of them soon!

    2. diatomaceous earth works great on slugs and snails. For large quantity, try a pool store. I’ve seen it sold on health food sites in smaller quantity. I also buy bags of it for my filter to kill miniscule parasites in my aquarium. Not sure if it works, but it makes the water awfully clean.

    1. I suppose I could just plant what I know they don’t like, but from what I understand, they’ll pretty much try anything! Hope you have luck in sending the yucky guys packing!

  2. Good luck, and as you’ve already noted, be careful with the vinegar! Vinegar is also a great killer of plants/weeds, but that’s when it’s used straight, no dilution. I hope the combination of all the methods lays the aphid horde to waste! Nasty little critters.

  3. These all look like interesting methods–and I’ve never heard of any of them. So, I’m interested in hearing what works! I do remember that my Nana used to put cloves of garlic in the dirt around her rose bushes to keep the bugs(aphids, perhaps?)away from the flowers.

    1. Hi Robin! The garlic sounds like a great idea – aphids hate garlic, apparently. I have not seen any additional aphids, so one of my methods must have worked. 🙂

      1. I wonder how blending up garlic cloves and mixing w/ a vinegar/water mixture to sprinkle around/on the plants would work? Hmmmm….

      2. The one link I posted has a recipe for a garlic soap spray, but you’re right – perhaps a garlic vinegar combo would work, too! If the aphids appear again I think I’ll have to break out the garlic. It’s just not my favorite smell in the world – at least not raw, don’t mind the smell in my simmering marinara though. 🙂

  4. What perfect timing! Errr, well, I guess it is time for aphids…but I found them all over my roses and now I know what to do without using pesticides, which I refuse to use anyway. I havent since I moved to this mountain and started planting ten years ago, and I notice that if something attacks a fruit tree or veggies or flowers, if I don’t use poison, nature sends in the troops and balances my garden/orchard out eventually. I also plant friendly insect meadow. Yeah, I take a hit on production, but in the long run my soils and plants are healthier…as am I!

  5. I can’t wait to see how these work, It’s so hard to find chemical free products that give these little pest and others a run for the money these days! I’m keeping my fingers crossed and wishing you lots of success growing that tasty spinach…. I love spinach.

  6. I tried the vinegar/water spray last year on my lupins… aphids, I’ve found, love lupins as much as slugs and snails. The sad thing was, lupins are super sensitive to vinegar and it killed the plants. Only one of the three has come back this year but I’m up for trying your other solutions

  7. I have a high up balcony and those little bastards kill my peas EVERY YEAR! I have tried soap sprays, ladybugs, marigolds, blasting off with water, squishing them, etc…… But to no avail. Within a few days they come back by the thousands. I actually had a plant so infested last year I set it on fire and watched them burn to death. Once the peas are dying, they move to everything else. I don’t have time to check every leaf every day. Maybe I should get a rock garden. 😦

  8. I spotted an aphid on my newly planted tower and got rid of it. I also tried chopping some raw garlic cloves and scattering them on top and at the base….will see how that goes. I am tempted to try the vinegar too!

  9. So I’m curious, as it’s been a few years, what were the results? I have an infestation I need to control but would prefer to avoid going thermonuclear if one or two of those things would do the trick! 🙂

    1. Great question! I’ve narrowed it down to just banana peels since they have been so effective overall. They do occasionally require replenishment, but it’s my go-to remedy now.

  10. I have a large garden , come on guy’s what’s the over best? Cost effective. I like the banana. vinegar . but i am talking a large variety of vegies and pest .,Aphids are everywhere .Tomatoes, peppers, beans, spinach. i need real help.

  11. Last year on my balcony I had thyme, rosemary and oregano planted in between my flowers and had no aphids. This year, I haven’t had time to plant the herbs yet, and man, I’m battling aphids. Wow! I mixed water, dish soap, rubbing alcohol and cayenne pepper together and doused the plants. It seems to be working without killing the plants!

  12. If you don’t want aphids, don’t buy your plants and flowers from any garden store. Chances are they are already infested with aphids and you will bring them to your garden.

    To avoid aphids, I grow my flowers and vegies from seeds. And beware of neighbours who beautifies their garden with plants purchased from a garden store.

  13. I’m trying an onion, garlic, chili, Cayenne pepper spray. I don’t want to use vinegar because I heard it hurts the waxy coating of the veggie, leaving it defenseless. Some people use milk and others use Kashi pro gardening methods, and others use baking soda, but again, as the vinegar, the soda a can hurt the veggies if it’s used too much, try a cheap white flour.

  14. The affid swarm is so noxious here that I can’t even take the dog for a walk. These jerks are going to hang around until the snow hits, basically ruining our fall. I’ve also found these affids create really bad allergies, at least for me. We live in Post Falls Idaho, and in our subdivision certain parts aren’t as inundated, but there were literally walls of these bugs. One even got ino my coffee cup. However I’m still learning a lot, about this, horticulture and Tree Care in general. My health is very sensitive and I can’t be exposed to these bugs.

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