Home GardeningGarden Tips Aphids on the Loose! How to Get Rid of Aphids Naturally

Aphids on the Loose! How to Get Rid of Aphids Naturally


Tiny but ferocious, aphids in the garden can suck precious juices from some of our favourite plants. The good news is they make great food for some good bugs and can easily be controlled! Get rid of aphids from your garden by trying some of these natural methods.

Aphid infestation

Some pests are more uncommon than others, and when it comes to aphids, they’re just about everywhere!

For the most part, these little buggers aren’t much of a problem, and I usually let mother nature take care of it. But in some cases, aphids take over a plant, and I can see it beginning to do some damage.

I often see aphids in my garden, and I know just how to deal with them. Follow along for all my aphid tips and tricks!

how to get rid of aphidshow to get rid of aphids
Aphids multiply quickly, as females can produce up to 12 young a day.

Get to Know the Aphid

Before heading into battle, you need to know your enemy! Here’s some back story on how to identify your aphids.

Aphid Appearance

Small little guys, aphids are 4-8 mm in length. They have pear-like bodies that are soft and easily squished. They come in green, black, red, or white.

You may also see a woolly aphid. Though their bodies are green or blue, they appear fuzzy due to a waxy coating on their body. Their appearance almost resembles a tiny fluff of cotton.

Aphids can be either winged or wingless, depending on the type of aphid and the point of their lifecycle.

Aphid Lifecycle

In one year, the aphid goes through many phases of life. Beginning in the spring, a crew of all-females hatch from eggs sitting during the winter. An aphid will live anywhere from 1 to 6 weeks.

All spring and summer aphids produce asexually, meaning they are clones of their mother. This generation is born to live rather than produce eggs. Some will grow wings and leave their host area.

By the time fall rolls around, there will be some male aphids and they will mate. The females lay the eggs for the winter, and then the cycle repeats.

Females can produce up to 12 young a day, resulting in around 80 eggs in their lifetime.

Where do Aphids Come From?

Since they love new growth, aphids are one of the first pests to appear in the season. They live on or nearby plants they like to eat. Coniferous and deciduous trees are some of their favourites.

Aphids may also sneak their way into the garden via nursery plants. Whenever you purchase a new plant, thoroughly inspect it for any unwanted travellers before purchasing.

how to get rid of aphids naturallyhow to get rid of aphids naturally
Aphids primarily feed on new growth.

Identifying Aphid Damage

Chances are you’ve had some aphid trouble in your garden. They love to munch on organic vegetables, sometimes ruining a harvest you’ve spent a summer growing. While I’m a bug lover, I don’t like it when aphids destroy my vegetables. I try to grow more food than I need just so wildlife can enjoy some too. But even I must draw the line sometimes!

Aphids feed on plant sap, especially drawn to any new plant growth though they will feed anywhere. They produce a sticky substance called honeydew as they eat, which can attract other insects, such as ants. Honeydew can also cause fungal growth in a plant.

They arguably cause the most damage to home gardens than any other insect. Feeding in large groups, a severe infestation can quickly cause lots of damage. An infested plant may have stunted growth, a low yield, and can even die.

A damaged plant may have spots, yellow colouring, curling leaves, and may wilt. Galls can also form on the stems and branches of the plant. To spot aphids, look under leaves, on new branch tips, and any new growth. You may also spot their shed skin under the plants, appearing like white flakes.

Root Aphids

Sugarbeet root aphids are a cousin to the common ones found in the garden. However, they stay at or just above the soil line.

This type of aphid can quickly get out of control. They form galls on the plants and are especially drawn to narrowleaf cottonwood trees.

Aphids on Roses

You may have spotted some buggers on your roses. Typically, these are rose or potato aphids. To get them off your roses, try to wash them off with water every day for a few days.

Aphids also like nitrogen, so only use slow-release fertilizer on the rose bush. This way, they won’t have a sudden rush of nitrogen for the pests to feed on.

Aphids on Tomatoes

Potato or green peach aphids can be found on tomato plants. Surprisingly, tomatoes can handle a fair number of pests. But like any plant, a large infestation may affect how many tomatoes the plant produces and can also cause stunting.

Aphids on Milkweed

Because milkweed is the only host plant that monarch caterpillars eat, you want to keep aphids away from the plant. They can take away all the good nutrients, affecting the food source of the caterpillar.

Never use pesticides on milkweed to get rid of aphids. This could seriously harm the caterpillars and therefore, the monarch population.

Most often, the oleander aphid eats milkweed. They are a bright yellow aphid with black legs.

Aphids on Broad BeansAphids on Broad Beans
Avoid using pesticides on aphids, as this can affect other beneficial insects in your garden.

How to Get Rid of Aphids Naturally

You may be looking to kill aphids, but I strongly urge against reaching for the harsh pesticides right away. I never kill pests as I believe that every insect belongs for a reason, even the pesky aphids! As a major food source for all kinds of insects, eliminating them can negatively affect the ecosystem of a garden.

That being said, I do like to keep them away from my favourite plants and use all of the methods below to control aphids in my garden.

a ladybug hunting aphidsa ladybug hunting aphids
Can you spot the aphids? The ladybug is on the hunt for its dinner.

Invite Predators

While aphids may not be friendly, there are so many beneficial insects you want to have in your garden. The best way to keep aphids at bay is by inviting their arch-nemesis into the garden…ladybugs! Ladybugs, one of my favourite beneficial bugs, are the most well-known aphid predators.

A gorgeous red with adorable polka dots, you can enjoy their beauty and watch as they munch away on aphids. In fact, a single ladybug can eat up to 5,000 aphids in its lifetime. Now we’re talking! They also enjoy eating mealybugs, mites, scale, and more annoying pests.

Many garden centres will also sell ladybugs, so you can buy some to directly place in the part of your garden undergoing an aphid infestation.

A few other bugs eat aphids. Green lacewing larvae like to chomp on them while they grow into an adult. Hoverfly females also lay eggs in patches of aphids so that their larvae can hatch and eat them. Minute pirate bugs are also known to attack and eat infestations of aphids.

ladybugs next to aphidsladybugs next to aphids
Where there are ladybugs, there are aphids. Keep the ladybugs around!

Pest Repellent Spray

As an organic gardener, I stay away from all kinds of pesticides. While they can be useful at keeping away pests, they also kill all the good guys too. And we certainly don’t want that!

I have plenty of vegetables and plants I would rather not have certain bugs munching on. I make my own pest repellent spray to keep them away from the plants I care the most about. Using ingredients from my garden that pests naturally hate, the spray is simple to make and costs pennies. In fact, many of the commercial products also use some of the same plants in their ingredient list (and a few additives I don’t like).

This natural spray keeps things as close to nature as possible, keeping pests away without disrupting the ecosystem of my garden. For the full recipe and list of herbs to include, read my blog about making natural pest control spray.

Companion Planting

Companion planting has all sorts of amazing benefits, one of them helping to ward off insects. Chemical-free and completely natural, the best part about companion planting is the reason to buy more plants!

Strategically interplant herbs and vegetables that aphids don’t like next to your plants you want to keep them away from. This means tucking a few of the plants listed below between your vegetables and flowers.

Try growing some of these plants for aphid control:

  • Alliums (chives and onion)s. They also ward off spider mites and carrot fly. Ladybugs also enjoy them!
  • Catnip. Beware, cats do love it, so you may have some feline visitors.
  • Cilantro. Another ladybug favourite and aphid deterrent.
  • Dill. Ladybugs love this one, too.
  • Garlic. A deterrent for all sorts of pests, keep away aphids, spider mites, ants, snails, Japanese beetles, and more.
  • Mint. Like many on this list, you can not only enjoy the mint in your vegetable garden but use it to deter pests.
aphid controlaphid control
One aphid can quickly become multiple, so keep an eye out!

Attract Aphids

I know what you’re thinking: I’m trying to get rid of aphids. Why on earth would I try and attract them to my garden?

Hear me out! You can strategically attract small infestations of aphids on hardier plants to bring all sorts of good predators to the garden. If I allow them to live in one corner of my garden on some of my established trees, some ladybugs may stop and pay a visit, protecting the whole garden.

Ladybugs lay their eggs in aphid-heavy areas so that when their young hatch, they have a food source. No aphids mean no ladybugs.

Nasturtiums are a trap plant for aphids. They will attract them, encourage ladybugs to stop and pay a visit, and keep them away from my vegetables. In addition to nasturtiums, I also grow Shasta daisies for black aphids and lupines for green aphids.

aphids on leafaphids on leaf
I purposefully include trap plants to attract aphids and keep them away from my other plants, such as my vegetables.

FAQ About Aphid Control

How harmful are aphids?

It depends on how many aphids there are and at what stage your plant is in. A young plant won’t be able to handle many aphids, and the aphids will affect new growth on the plant, sucking out the sap from it.

An older plant can likely handle more aphids, and I don’t worry if I spot a few. Most established plants can handle aphids just fine. But when there is a full-on infestation, that’s when I step in with these pest control methods.

What causes an infestation of aphids?

An infestation begins when a winged aphid has flown to a plant and deemed it a suitable host for their young. They’ll lay their eggs, and since aphids quickly multiply, you can have quite a swarm in no time.

Aphids are particularly attracted to new growth and are a problem most often in late spring and early summer. To avoid this, consider planting trap plants such as nasturtium, calendula, Shasta daisies, and lupines to attract aphids and keep them away from your other nearby plants.

Does Dawn dish soap kill aphids?

Making soapy water is a common method for getting rid of aphids. It works well on all soft-bodied pests, such as whiteflies and mites, likely because it washes off the protective coating on their body.

My natural pest control spray does contain dish soap, which helps it stick to the aphid’s body.

If I have a severe infestation on a plant I care deeply about, I will go in by hand with a wet, soapy cloth to wipe down the aphids from the stems and leaves.

Which of these aphid control methods will you be trying? Let me know in the comments down below!

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