7 Ways to Get Rid of Aphids on Vegetable Plants

Updated on June 28, 2019
habee profile image

Holle is a retired English and creative writing teacher. She is a professional freelance writer and contributes to Horseman Magazine.

The aphids are here!
The aphids are here! | Source

Aphids Are Attacking My Vegetable Plants!

I've been growing vegetables for several decades, in the ground and in containers. Even so, this year is the first time I've ever experienced aphids on my plants.

When I first saw them, I thought they were whiteflies, which I had trouble with last year. Upon closer inspection, however, I figured out the little critters were aphids. I first discovered them on one of my bell pepper plants, which prompted me to closely inspect my entire container garden. I found infestations on a few other plants, so I set out to win the battle with the aphids.

7 Methods for Getting Rid of Aphids

  1. Water Spray
  2. Natural Predators
  3. Neem Oil
  4. Soap Spray Insecticide
  5. Aphid Traps
  6. Pesticide
  7. Hand-Picking

Check the new growth first.
Check the new growth first.

How to Find Aphids

Aphids are tiny pear-shaped insects. They can be black, gray, brown, pink, red, or green. In my case, all the aphids I've seen have been very pale green—almost white.

They prefer young, tender leaves, where you might find them on the underside of the leaves, happily sucking vital sap from your plants. Another sign to look for is “honeydew.” It's a sweet, sticky substance secreted by aphids, and ants love it.

As I already mentioned, aphids usually prefer feeding on tender new leaves, but I've found them on every plant part, from new buds to old, leathery leaves at the bottom of the plant.

From my experience, aphids prefer some plants to others. For example, they love my eggplants and pepper plants, but they haven't touched my other vegetable plants.

Killing Aphids

Aphids have soft bodies, so they're very easy to kill, individually. They're not, however, easy to stop as an invading horde. What they lack in physical durability is made up for with sheer numbers, due to their bizarre methods of reproduction.

Female aphids can reproduce with or without a male. They can bear live young or lay eggs. Aphids born alive are born pregnant. Furthermore, some aphids will develop wings and fly to a new host plant and start a new colony.

An average aphid lives for about a month, and a single female might produce more than forty generations in just one summer! Unfortunately, as a species, they're very successful.

1. Water Spray

Some gardeners simply knock off the insects from a plant by using a strong jet of water from a hose. I've used this method, and it seemed to work pretty well—for the moment. I worried, however, that some of the bugs would find their way back to my plants, so I don't totally trust this method. If you decide to spray away the pests, be careful the jet of water isn't forceful enough to damage your leaves. Also, be sure to spray the entire leaf—top and bottom surface.

2. Natural Aphid Predators

Another way to handle aphids is to introduce beneficial insects into your garden that naturally prey on aphids. These include ladybugs, lacewings, parasitic wasps, and crab spiders. Some bird species also feed on aphids. The problem is getting these predators into your garden. Yes, you can purchase ladybugs, but how do you convince them to stay where you want them?

3. Neem Oil

I tried very hard to avoid chemical pesticides in my container garden, so I turned to neem oil. I have to say the neem oil I used had no effect on the aphids. I found out later that I should be using only cold-pressed neem oil, which I wasn't using. If you decide to use neem oil in your battle against aphids, be sure to use the cold-pressed type.

4. Soap Spray Insecticide

You can easily make your own insecticide using liquid dish detergent. Although Castille soap is supposedly the best, just about any brand will work. Mix together one teaspoon dish detergent, 4 teaspoons vegetable oil, and two cups of water. Place mixture into a spray bottle and agitate until well combined. Spray plants all over. Do this in the morning or evening, not in the hot part of the day. By the way, if you add a teaspoon of garlic oil, this spray will probably be even more effective.

5. Aphid Traps

Aphids, like several other garden pests, are attracted to the color yellow. I suppose this is because most blooms found on vegetable plants are yellow. You can use this preference to your advantage by creating yellow traps for aphids.

There are a couple of different types of aphid traps you can use to slow down the bug population: sticky traps and cup traps.

You can purchase ready-to-use yellow sticky traps, or you can make your own by spreading petroleum jelly on yellow posterboard. Place the sticky traps around your garden, near susceptible plants.

The other type of aphid trap is a yellow plastic cup. Simply fill the cup about three-fourths full of water and add a drop of dishwashing liquid. The dishsoap breaks the surface tension of thew water, causing any visiting aphids to drown.

Easy DIY aphid traps!
Easy DIY aphid traps!

6. Best Pesticide for Aphids

I don't like using chemical pesticides in my garden, but it got to the point where I had to, unless I wanted to hand over my vegetable plants to the aphids. First, I used liquid Sevin, but it had little to no effect on the bugs. Next, I used a 3-in-1 spray, which didn't help, either. Finally, I used Malathion—once. This pesticide definitely helped, but even it didn't completely eradicate all the aphids. It did, however, greatly reduce the numbers, allowing me to keep the sapsuckers in check with the next method.

7. Squishing Aphids

The pesticide made it so the number of aphids on my vegetable plants was manageable. Every morning, while it's still relatively cool outdoors, I examine my affected plants by hand.

I suffer from spinal stenosis, so I have to do almost all my gardening while sitting. I just pull my outdoor chair up to a plant and examine every leaf and every bud carefully. When I spy an aphid, I rub it off, killing it in the process. If you use this method, remember not to rub hard enough to damage the leaves. If you're squeamish, you might want to wear gloves during this process.

This method of aphid-killing has worked very well for me. This morning, for example, I found only two aphids! You might find this strange, but I find this endeavor to be relaxing.

To maintain a healthy container garden, be vigilant!
To maintain a healthy container garden, be vigilant! | Source

Early Intervention for Aphid Control

Because aphids multiply so rapidly, you have to get ahead of the game, before the bugs become too numerous. As you water your plants and harvest your vegetables, do a cursory inspection on the new leaves. If you see aphids or evidence of aphids, take the time to check the entire plants and destroy any aphids you find.

Getting rid of aphids is extremely important. Not only do they suck the life from your plants, they also carry viruses and can infect your plants with sooty mold. I'm not sure there's any one method that will work to completely eradicate all the aphids in your garden, so I suggest using a combination approach, employing several different strategies. The most important thing is to be vigilant. Don't let the aphid population become overwhelming before taking action.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment
      • MarleneB profile image

        Marlene Bertrand 

        2 months ago from USA

        I once had an aphid infestation on my rose bushes. First it was just one plant and then all of a sudden it became all of them. I just couldn't get ahead of the little bugs. Finally I cut down all of the rose bushes and then managed from there. But I just love your idea of the yellow cups. I'm going to try it in my garden this year.

      • billybuc profile image

        Bill Holland 

        2 months ago from Olympia, WA

        Yes to all of it! This is the first time in a long time we haven't had aphids. We must be doing something right. :)

      • Ericdierker profile image

        Eric Dierker 

        2 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

        Fantastic. Read and did it. Thank you.

      • Jennifer Jorgenson profile image

        Jennifer Jorgenson 

        2 months ago

        I just love all these chemical free solutions! We get aphids on our roses every year until the lady bugs hatch. I've had some success with the soapy water method but I'm definitely saving this article so I can try some new techniques next year! Thank you!

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, dengarden.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://dengarden.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
      ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)