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Organic Controls For Aphids

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All gardeners eventually battle aphids in the home garden. Here are some ideas and methods to control these pests without breaking out the toxic bug spray.

How to Control Aphids Organically

Welcome Back to our Tuesday Garden Blog Hop! So many interesting reads in our group this week. I know you will benefit from every gardener in our group. Please click and read each post for fun and informative  garden ideas, creative projects and helpful information to make your garden life a bit easier and better.

This is a reposted and updated article from our first year of greenhouse gardening. We have learned a lot about aphids in the last few years.

The aphids took over our greenhouse almost immediately after we planted it that first year.  At first, we did not know aphids were causing the damage to our pepper crop. The aphids got a strong foothold in our greenhouse before we figured it out.

All through the 2014 growing season we battled back wave after wave of aphids on our greenhouse pepper plants. We kept killing those nasty bugs and they just kept coming back.

We have since learned a LOT about what works to control this common (and often destructive) garden pest organically.

Hunting Aphids

Dave is using his magnifying glass to spy out the little critters. I stand by with the DIY Insecticide soap spray. Just call me dead eye! Fortunately aphids leave the tomatoes alone. They prefer peppers! Sad Dave!

If you find Aphids Try these Methods instead of heavy duty chemical sprays:

Get a small hand held magnifier (dave is using one above) and look for the source of the plant damage.

Learn how to spot Aphid troubles.

These are the signs that your plant damage is from aphids.

  • You may spot a mass of teeny aphids clumped up the plant stem just under the new leaf whorls (Aphids can be green, grey or black), or the underside of the leaf will have aphids on it.
  • Aphids leave white nymph castings all over plant leaves as they go through their lifecycles. Those appear as flecks of white on the leaves.
  • Also some shiny sticky honeydew like substance might be on the leaves. That’s what ants are interested in.
  • Of course the leaf damage is also characteristic of the problem. Twisted, stunted, curled and sucked!

Learn about Aphids:

  • Not sure Which Aphid you have? There are a HUGE variety of aphids. Here is a Key to  Identifying Aphids.
  • Aphids are sap suckers. They take the nectar from plant stems and leaves. This diminishes the plant size, energy and it’s ability to grow and support it’s fruit. The plant is stunted and so are the leaves.
  • Aphids often carry virus that are communicated with the plants they attack. This makes them a big problem for some gardeners.
  • Aphids come in a myriad of species and attack a huge variety of garden plants.

Ants as Farmers! 

Some Ants actually protect and tend aphids on plants to cultivate the sticky stuff aphids produce and ants enjoy. Lovely. THIS is why we have an unending population of aphids in our greenhouse. Ants bring them in!

One solution is to get rid of the aphid farming ants, known as ‘Herder Ants’. All the years we have lived here we have dealt with ants on some level. I usually ignore them outside.

Apparently I missed that our ants wear tiny cowboy hats, carry lassoes and use our greenhouse as an aphid ranch! 

Herder ants protect and herd aphids like cattle for the honeydew nectar aphids produce. It’s no surprise really that they invade the warm lovely warm, humid greenhouse climate. It’s full of yummy plants for their little, fat bodied slaves! How handy.

Our solution to the ants: Cornmeal mixed with diatomaceous earth!

Spreading this cornmeal mix along the ant trails worked for us. It did take some time but if you don’t get rid of the ants you don’t get rid of the aphids.

  • Cornmeal is bad for ant digestion and some say it will kill ants. Scout Ants take it back to the queen and hopefully the hill dies off with her.
  •  The diatomaceous earth cuts up the ant exoskeleton.  This dehydrates and kills the ants. Unfortunately it does not stick to them so it won’t kill the queen. To kill a whole ant hill you will have to find the hill, open it and pour the diatomaceous earth right into it.
  • Get more ideas on how to deter ants organically here.
Krimson lee Peppers

Our Tiburon and Krimson Lee Peppers are aphids favorites. Companion planting is a beautiful organic method of aphid control. We had success planting marigolds, petunias and basil around our tomatoes and pepper plants. The aphids found them even tastier than peppers!

TIP: Once you spot pests or the damage they do on your plant, take control! Remember, organic gardening is all about balance. You don’t want to wipe out every aphid and bad bug in your garden. Otherwise your natural predators will go hunt somewhere else. Aphids only do a lot of damage when their are a LOT OF THEM.

 When you have an Infestation here’s what to do:

  • Strong water spray will wash Aphids off your plant leaves and may be enough for a small infestation.
  • Snip off  heavily affected plant parts and remove the worst of the pests.
  • Directly Spray aphids with this DIY Organic Insecticidal Soap.  The aphids die when sprayed… but more keep coming as their life stages mature. Fighting the invasion of the little fat bodied fiends is a constant pastime.
  • Pick them off with an alcohol-soaked cotton swab or wipe them off with baby wipes.
  • Squishing aphids and scale with soapy fingers is another quick removal method (gross but it works).
  • Isolate infected plants as much as possible. Remove a heavily infested and damaged plant if you must.
  • Try essential oils. This article is full of great ideas for using essential oils for pest control.

Organic gardening methods that keep pests in balance and control aphids

  • Import and support Beneficial bugs. Certain wasps, Green Lacewing Larvae and good old lady bugs will eat lots of Aphids. Spiders are encouraged in our greenhouse because they eat aphids and mites too. Discover  more  about bugs that will aid your garden in this article on beneficials.
  • Companion planting. We have Marigolds, nasturtiums, petunias and basil planted along the greenhouse beds. They provides us beauty, attract pollinators and aphids! Decoy plants like this can survive some aphid damage but still need spraying to ensure the aphids don’t get out of control. Other plants actually deter aphids. Rosemary and thyme are two we use with some success.

 Here is a video of me spraying a soap bath on the plants. I also show you a ladybug larvae (one of several that hatched on our peppers). Good allies in the aphid wars. Ladybugs in both the larval and adult stage eat about 5,000 aphids in their one year lifetime.

Nasturtium pollinator plant

Our Greenhouse early in the season. This nasturtium will sprawl all over the floor and draw hundreds of bees to pollinate our greenhouse crops when they flower. Strangely, our green greenhouse aphids won’t touch them. Outside our nasturtiums get infested with black aphids in late summer.

I think I have seen one or two spider mites around. Fortunately they don’t like soap spray any more than aphids. Scale (which I haven’t seen thank God) is another pest to keep an eye out for. Ladybugs eat them all.

Neem oil also provides safe control for spider mites and aphids. As with any chemical control, repeated applications are required.


Aphids are found in most gardens

As a garden pest they can do a little damage or a LOT. Organic gardeners learn to tolerate some bug damage. but a large infestation of aphids will heavily damage your crops. For food crops this is really annoying. No one wants to eat chewed (or sucked) veggies. Plants cannot thrive if they are heavily loaded with vermin.

Keep an eye out for these plant suckers and if you see ANTS in your garden take a look. They may be wearing cowboy boots!

Here are some Beneficial Insects your garden will love! All of these garden helpers should be welcomed and encouraged in your garden to balance your bug population. Good luck and good hunting!


Tuesday Garden Blog Hop:

Please click and read each post to get the most out of this blog hop. There is always room for more creative ideas in the garden!

Frugal Family Home 18485819 1354388817941334 2391793336786184008 n

 

Hearth and Vine18485574 10209511641768742 7338872442578249538 n

Simplify Live Love18519478 10211986668169569 4452674753954645299 n

An Oregon Cottage18486368 10211472121311253 8257166675168148224 n

 

Angie The Freckled Rose 18664703 3012749557789 5334996062676629249 n

Creative Living with Bren Haas 18698183 10212029849434491 7945682688773648598 n

Pin it:Organic Aphid Control.This post includes links, tips and info on Aphid ID, how to spot them and the damage they do. Various methods of organic control are presented as well.

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How to Make a Leaf Embossed Concrete Fountain

Wednesday 22nd of August 2018

[…]  Organic Controls for Aphids @ Homemade Food Junkie […]

Angie

Sunday 28th of May 2017

I definitely need to follow this guide. Aphids frustrate me to no end! I've tried everything, even ladybugs to no avail. They love to munch up all of my new shrubs that I spend a pretty penny on. Oh, and my roses! Ugh, those dang bugs. I'm going to do my best to deal with them early this year so they don't get out of control. My problem is they like to sneak into my garden while I'm away on summer vacations and when I come back, it's like all hell broke loose! Pinning and saving this so I can win the battle this year :)

Diane

Sunday 28th of May 2017

Hi Angie, Look for the ants and try the cornmea diatomaceous earth mix. Good luck!

Patti

Wednesday 24th of May 2017

Hi Diane,

These is such an informative article on a common problem just about anyone who gardens can benefit from. I have used cornmeal and DE to prevent slugs on my hosta but never thought about using it for other pests problems. Thanks for sharing and updating your info.

Diane

Wednesday 24th of May 2017

Hi Patti, I will try it on slugs too! I never thought to do that! Thanks so much for your helpful comment!

Jami

Tuesday 23rd of May 2017

Oh my gosh, your picture of the ants with hats and lassos herding the aphids is priceless! I have not tried the cornmeal/DE mixture - that sounds like a great solution for ants (for in-house infestations, too).

Diane

Tuesday 23rd of May 2017

Lol. Thanks Jami, Gotta keep creative ideas going in the ant and aphid war. Diatomaceous Earth is the best ant remedy I've found so far.

Shelly

Tuesday 23rd of May 2017

We battle aphids each year on our roses and in the garden. We make our own aphid spray that works really well if we catch them before they get bad. We also battle ants in the house and the garden. I try to keep them at bay with homemade bait and killing them when I see them. I hope this year is a better year for your greenhouse garden and you don't' have to battle with the aphids much.

Diane

Tuesday 23rd of May 2017

Thank you Shelly,every year is different in the garden and greenhouse. As you know variety of experience keeps the gardening hobby fresh and exciting. This year we will just be glad to get our crops growing at all in this late spring. Talk about off to a slow start! Have a great day!

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