How to repel aphids?

Aphids – Vegetables

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Controlling Aphids on Vegetable Plants

Appearance

  • Adults: Small, soft-bodied, tear-drop shaped, ranging in color from green to blue-green, yellow, orange, red, black and grayish white.
  • Some are covered with fluffy white wax. Most have a pair of tubular cornicles near the tip of the abdomen (looks like a “dual-exhaust” system). Dispersing adults have wings.
  • Immatures: Resemble adults.


Close up of aphids
Photo: J. Davidson, UME


Aphids on potato
Photo: G. Dively, UME
Close up of aphids and honeydew

Life Cycle/Habits

  • Eggs laid in fall overwinter and hatch in spring.
  • Many more generations are produced during the growing season.
  • Aphids move slowly, congregating on new succulent growing tips and leaf undersides.
  • Winged dispersing adults may fly to other plants.
  • Aphids have long slender mouthparts to suck plant sap and excrete sticky honeydew.
  • Aphids feed on plant leaves, stems or roots, depending on the species, and can transmit plant diseases.

Video contributed by Dr. Mike Raupp

Host Plants


Aphids on corn
Photo: C. McClurg, UME

Aphids on cabbage

Signs/Symptoms

  • Sucking of sap stunts plants. Leaves curl and/or discolor with white or yellow stippling.
  • Sooty mold may grow on honeydew, blackening leaves.
  • Aphids congregate on new growing tips but are also attracted to lush, overly fertilized growth or stressed plants.


Aphid damage on pepper plant

Monitoring

  • Examine transplants to intercept infested plants.
  • Check leaf tips and undersides and along stems for clusters.
  • Inspect for sooty mold growing on honeydew. Note any curling, stunting, or stippling.
  • Ants frequently harvest honeydew from aphids, so the presence of ants may be a sign of aphid infestation.

Prevention/Control

  • Do not plant infested transplants.
  • Aphids are mainly a problem May through June but have many natural enemies (e.g. ladybird beetles, lacewings, syrphid fly, parasitic wasps) that keep numbers controlled. Look for brown, swollen parasitized bodies.
  • Encourage predators with attractant plants and avoid toxic pesticides.
  • Control low aphid infestations with a robust spray of water.
  • If damage is obvious and predators and parasitoids few, use insecticidal soap. Check product label for directions before spraying. And avoid spraying when temperatures are above 85 degrees F.


Ladybird beetles eating aphids on tomato

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Stop Aphids in Your Garden

Aphids are sometimes called plant lice — and if any of your plants fall under attack, you’ll easily see why. These small insects reproduce with amazing speed. A small infestation of aphids can turn into a big problem in just a couple of days.

Aphids range in color from green to yellow, brown, red, or even black. All aphids suck sap from your plants, causing leaf curling or yellowing. Bigger infestations of aphids can distort or even kill new growth shoots. Aphids also excrete a sugary substance called honeydew.

Your plants may show a side effect of an aphid infestation: a black fungus called sooty mold. This after-effect of aphids grows on honeydew and blocks the amount of light that gets to your plant (but is otherwise harmless). Wash your plant leaves with water to get rid of the honeydew and sooty mold.

Controlling Aphids

Row covers: In spring, protect young plants from aphids with floating row covers. These row covers keep the aphids out but allow air, light, and moisture to reach your plants. Remove the row covers when your seedlings grow too large or when the temperatures heat up in summer.

Spraying with water: The safest way to control aphids is to spray them off your plants with a stream of water from the garden hose every two or three days. Once aphids are knocked off a plant, they rarely climb back on.

Attract beneficial insects: Plant flowers, such as marigolds, calendula, sunflower, daisy, alyssum, or dill nearby to attract beneficial insects that attack and kill aphids. Ladybugs are especially fond of aphids.

Insecticidal soaps: Insecticidal soaps will also kill aphids but must be applied on a regular basis in heavy infestations because aphids reproduce so quickly. A single aphid can produce up to 80 baby aphids in a week.

Insecticides: A number of insecticides also effectively kill aphids. Be sure to follow the package directions carefully.

Note: Sometimes ants will eat the honeydew left by the aphids. While the ants don’t harm plants, they can protect the aphids from beneficial insects. If you get rid of the aphid populations, the ants should go away.

How to Manage Pests

Pests in Gardens and Landscapes

Aphids

Revised 7/13

In this Guideline:



  • Identification
  • Life cycle
  • Damage
  • Management
  • About Pest Notes
  • Publication
  • Glossary

Related videos

  • Aphid-Eating Insects in Action (2:19)
  • Hosing off aphids (1:29)

Wingless adults and nymphs of the potato aphid.

Some common aphids
by habitat
  • Aphids on Vegetables and flowers: Table 1
  • Aphids on Fruit Trees: Table 2
  • Aphids on Woody Ornamentals: Table 3

Woolly apple aphid adults showing waxy coating.

Some aphids overwinter as eggs such as the mealy plum aphid on plums.

Sooty mold, growing on honeydew produced by the hackberry woolly aphid.

Leaf curling caused by rosy apple aphid.

Mummified aphid bodies indicate that they have been parasitized. The parasitic wasp (center) has emerged from the circular hole in the top left mummy.

Aphids are small, soft-bodied insects with long slender mouthparts that they use to pierce stems, leaves, and other tender plant parts and suck out fluids. Almost every plant has one or more aphid species that occasionally feed on it. Many aphid species are difficult to distinguish from one another; however, management of most aphid species is similar.

IDENTIFICATION

Aphids have soft pear-shaped bodies with long legs and antennae and may be green, yellow, brown, red, or black depending on the species and the plants they feed on. A few species appear waxy or woolly due to the secretion of a waxy white or gray substance over their body surface. Most species have a pair of tubelike structures called cornicles projecting backward out of the hind end of their body. The presence of cornicles distinguishes aphids from all other insects.

Generally adult aphids are wingless, but most species also occur in winged forms, especially when populations are high or during spring and fall. The ability to produce winged individuals provides the pest with a way to disperse to other plants when the quality of the food source deteriorates.

Although they may be found singly, aphids often feed in dense groups on leaves or stems. Unlike leafhoppers, plant bugs, and certain other insects that might be confused with them, most aphids don’t move rapidly when disturbed.

LIFE CYCLE

Aphids have many generations a year. Most aphids in California’s mild climate reproduce asexually throughout most or all of the year with adult females giving birth to live offspring—often as many as 12 per day—without mating. Young aphids are called nymphs. They molt, shedding their skin about four times before becoming adults. There is no pupal stage. Some species produce sexual forms that mate and produce eggs in fall or winter, providing a more hardy stage to survive harsh weather and the absence of foliage on deciduous plants. In some cases, aphids lay these eggs on an alternative host, usually a perennial plant, for winter survival.

When the weather is warm, many species of aphids can develop from newborn nymph to reproducing adult in seven to eight days. Because each adult aphid can produce up to 80 offspring in a matter of a week, aphid populations can increase with great speed.

DAMAGE

Low to moderate numbers of leaf-feeding aphids aren’t usually damaging in gardens or on trees. However, large populations can turn leaves yellow and stunt shoots; aphids can also produce large quantities of a sticky exudate known as honeydew, which often turns black with the growth of a sooty mold fungus. Some aphid species inject a toxin into plants, which causes leaves to curl and further distorts growth. A few species cause gall formations.

Aphids may transmit viruses from plant to plant on certain vegetable and ornamental plants. Squash, cucumber, pumpkin, melon, bean, potato, lettuce, beet, chard, and bok choy are crops that often have aphid-transmitted viruses associated with them. The viruses mottle, yellow, or curl leaves and stunt plant growth. Although losses can be great, they are difficult to prevent by controlling aphids, because infection occurs even when aphid numbers are very low; it takes only a few minutes for the aphid to transmit the virus, while it takes a much longer time to kill the aphid with an insecticide.

A few aphid species attack parts of plants other than leaves and shoots. The lettuce root aphid is a soil dweller that attacks lettuce roots in spring and summer, causing lettuce plants to wilt and occasionally die. In fall, this species often moves to poplar trees, where it overwinters in the egg stage and produces leaf galls in spring. The woolly apple aphid infests woody parts of apple roots and limbs, often near pruning wounds, and can cause overall tree decline if roots are infested for several years. Heavy infestations of crown and root aphids on carrots may weaken tops, causing them to tear off when carrots are harvested.

MANAGEMENT

Although aphids seldom kill a mature plant, the damage they do and unsightly honeydew they generate sometimes warrant control. Consider the nonchemical controls discussed below, as most insecticides will destroy beneficial insects along with the pest. On mature trees, such as in citrus orchards, aphids and the honeydew they produce can provide a valuable food source for beneficial insects.

Check your plants regularly for aphids—at least twice a week when plants are growing rapidly—in order to catch infestations early, so you can knock or hose them off or prune them out. Many species of aphids cause the greatest damage in late spring when temperatures are warm but not hot (65°-80°F). For aphids that cause leaves to curl, once aphid numbers are high and they have begun to distort leaves, it’s often difficult to control these pests, because the curled leaves shelter aphids from insecticides and natural enemies.

Aphids tend to be most prevalent along the upwind edge of the garden and close to other infested plants of the same species, so make a special effort to check these areas. Many aphid species prefer the underside of leaves, so turn leaves over when checking for aphids. On trees, clip off leaves from several areas of the tree. Also check for evidence of natural enemies such as lady beetles, lacewings, syrphid fly larvae, and the mummified skins of parasitized aphids. Look for disease-killed aphids as well; they may appear off color, bloated, flattened, or fuzzy. Substantial numbers of any of these natural control factors can mean the aphid population may be reduced rapidly without the need for treatment.

Ants are often associated with aphid populations, especially on trees and shrubs, and frequently are a clue that an aphid infestation is present. If you see large numbers of ants climbing your tree trunks, check higher up the tree for aphids or other honeydew-producing insects that might be on limbs and leaves. To protect their food source, ants ward off many predators and parasites of aphids. Managing ants is a key component of aphid management. (See Cultural Control.)

In landscape settings, you can monitor aphids by using water-sensitive paper to measure honeydew dripping from a tree. This type of monitoring is of particular interest where there is a low tolerance for dripping honeydew, such as in groups of trees along city streets or in parks and for tall trees where aphid colonies may be located too high to detect. (See Pests of Landscape Trees and Shrubs in References for more details.)

Biological Control

Natural enemies can be very important for controlling aphids, especially in gardens not sprayed with broad-spectrum pesticides (e.g., organophosphates, carbamates, and pyrethroids) that kill natural enemy species as well as pests. Usually natural enemy populations don’t appear in significant numbers until aphids begin to be numerous.

Among the most important natural enemies are various species of parasitic wasps that lay their eggs inside aphids. The skin of the parasitized aphid turns crusty and golden brown, a form called a mummy. The generation time of most parasites is quite short when the weather is warm, so once you begin to see mummies on your plants, the aphid population is likely to be reduced substantially within a week or two.

Many predators also feed on aphids. The most well known are lady beetle adults and larvae, lacewing larvae, soldier beetles, and syrphid fly larvae. Naturally occurring predators work best, especially in garden and landscape situations. For photos and more information about aphid natural enemies, see the Natural Enemies Gallery.

Lady Beetle Releases

Applying commercially available lady beetles (the convergent lady beetle, Hippodamia convergens) may give some temporary control when properly handled, although most of them will disperse from your yard within a few days.

If releasing lady beetles, keep them refrigerated until just before letting them go, doing so at dusk, as those released in broad daylight will fly away immediately. Mist the lady beetles with water just before release, and also mist the surface of the plant you are releasing them onto. Place the lady beetles at the base of infested plants or in the crotches of low branches. Lady beetles will crawl higher into the plant in search of aphids. University of California research indicates that high numbers of lady beetles are required to control aphids. One large, heavily infested rose bush required two applications, spaced a week apart, of about 1,500 lady beetles each. For more information about making lady beetle releases, see UC IPM’s convergent lady beetle page in the Natural Enemies Gallery.

Aphids are very susceptible to fungal diseases when it is humid. These pathogens can kill entire colonies of aphids when conditions are right. Look for dead aphids that have turned reddish or brown; they’ll have a fuzzy, shriveled texture unlike the shiny, bloated, tan-colored mummies that form when aphids are parasitized.

Weather can also impact aphids. Summer heat in the Central Valley and desert areas reduces the populations of many species, and aphid activity is also limited during the coldest part of the year. However, some aphids may be active year-round, especially in the milder, central coastal areas of California.

Ant Management

In some situations ants tend aphids and feed on the honeydew aphids excrete. At the same time, ants protect the aphids from natural enemies. If you see ants crawling up aphid-infested trees or woody plants, put a band of sticky material (e.g., Tanglefoot) around the trunk to prevent ants from climbing up. (Don’t apply sticky material directly to the bark of young or thin-barked trees or to trees that have been severely pruned, as the material may have phytotoxic effects. Wrap the trunk with fabric tree wrap or duct tape and apply sticky material to the wrap.) Alternatively, ant stakes or containerized baits may be used on the ground to control ants without affecting aphids or their natural enemies. Prune out other ant routes such as branches touching buildings, the ground, or other trees.

Cultural Control

Before planting vegetables, check surrounding areas for sources of aphids and remove these sources. Some aphids build up on weeds such as sowthistle and mustards, moving onto related crop seedlings after they emerge. On the other hand, these aphid-infested weeds can sometimes provide an early source of aphid natural enemies. Always check transplants for aphids and remove them before planting.

Where aphid populations are localized on a few curled leaves or new shoots, the best control may be to prune out these areas and dispose of them. In large trees, some aphids thrive in the dense inner canopy; pruning out these areas can make the habitat less suitable.

High levels of nitrogen fertilizer favor aphid reproduction, so never use more nitrogen than necessary. Instead, use a less soluble form of nitrogen and apply it in small portions throughout the season rather than all at once. Slow-release fertilizers such as organic fertilizers or urea-based time-release formulations are best.

Because many vegetables are susceptible to serious aphid damage primarily during the seedling stage, reduce losses by growing seedlings under protective covers in the garden, in a greenhouse, or inside and then transplanting them when the seedlings are older and more tolerant of aphid feeding. Protective covers will also prevent transmission of aphid-borne viruses.

Silver-colored reflective mulches have been successfully used to reduce transmission of aphid-borne viruses in summer squash, melon, and other susceptible vegetables. These mulches repel invading aphid populations, reducing their numbers on seedlings and small plants. Another benefit is that yields of vegetables grown on reflective mulches are usually increased by the greater amount of solar energy reflecting onto leaves.

To put a reflective mulch in your garden, remove all weeds and cover beds with mulch. Bury the edges with soil to hold them down. After the mulch is in place, cut or burn 3- to 4-inch diameter holes and plant several seeds or a single transplant in each one. In addition to repelling aphids, leafhoppers, and some other insects, the mulch will enhance crop growth and control weeds. When summertime temperatures get high, however, remove mulches to prevent overheating plants.

Ready-to-use reflective mulch products include silver-colored plastic sold in rolls. You can also make your own by spray-painting construction paper, landscape fabric, or clear plastic. If you use plastic mulches, you will need to use drip irrigation underneath. Landscape fabric and most paper mulches will allow water to flow through.

Another way to reduce aphid populations on sturdy plants is to knock off the insects with a strong spray of water. Most dislodged aphids won’t be able to return to the plant, and their honeydew will be washed off as well. Using water sprays early in the day allows plants to dry off rapidly in the sun and be less susceptible to fungal diseases.

Chemical Control

When considering whether to apply insecticides for aphid control, remember that most larger plants can tolerate light to moderate levels of aphids with little damage. Larger aphid populations often rapidly decline due to biological control or when hot temperatures arrive. Often a forceful spray of water or water-soap solution, even on large street trees, when applied with appropriate equipment, will provide sufficient control.

If insecticides are needed, insecticidal soaps and oils are the best choices for most situations. Oils may include petroleum-based horticultural oils or plant-derived oils such as neem or canola oil. These products kill primarily by smothering the aphid, so thorough coverage of infested foliage is required. Apply these materials with a high volume of water, usually a 1 to 2% oil solution in water, and target the underside of leaves as well as the top. Soaps, neem oil, and horticultural oil kill only aphids present on the day they are sprayed, so applications may need to be repeated. Although these materials can kill some natural enemies that are present on the plant and hit by the spray, they leave no toxic residue so they don’t kill natural enemies that migrate in after the spray.

These and other insecticides with contact-only activity are generally ineffective in preventing damage from aphids such as the leaf curl plum aphid or the woolly ash aphid, which are protected by galls or distorted foliage. Also, don’t use soaps or oils on water-stressed plants or when the temperature exceeds 90°F. These materials may be phytotoxic to some plants, so check labels and test the materials on a portion of the foliage several days before applying a full treatment.

Supreme- or superior-type oils will kill overwintering eggs of aphids on fruit trees if applied as a delayed-dormant application just as eggs are beginning to hatch in early spring. (On plums dormant applications right after leaves have fallen in early November are preferred.) These treatments won’t give complete control of aphids and probably aren’t justified for aphid control alone but will also control soft scale insects if they are a problem. Common aphid species controlled with these types of oils include the woolly apple aphid, green apple aphid, rosy apple aphid, mealy plum aphid, and black cherry aphid.

Many other insecticides are available to control aphids in the home garden and landscape, including foliar-applied formulations of malathion, permethrin, and acephate (nonfood crops only). While these materials may kill higher numbers of aphids than soaps and oils, their use should be limited, because they also kill the natural enemies that provide long-term control of aphids and other pests, and they are associated with bee kills and environmental problems. Repeated applications of these materials may also result in resistance to the material.

Insecticides such as oils and soaps are also safer to use when children and pets may be present. Formulations combining insecticidal soaps and pyrethrins may provide slightly more knockdown than soaps alone yet have fewer negative impacts on natural enemies than malathion, permethrin, and acephate, because pyrethrins break down very quickly.

Systemic insecticides are also available for aphid management, primarily for woody ornamentals. These materials, including imidacloprid, are very effective and are especially useful for serious infestations of aphids such as the woolly hackberry aphid, which is often not effectively controlled by biological control or less toxic insecticides. Imidacloprid can have negative impacts on predators, parasitoids, and pollinators, so its use should be avoided where soaps and oils will provide adequate control. To protect pollinators, don’t apply imidacloprid or other systemic insecticides to plants in bloom or prior to bloom.

Home-use soil-applied imidacloprid products are often diluted with water in a bucket and poured around the base of the tree or plant. Professional applicators can use soil injectors, which provide better control with less runoff potential. Applications are usually made in spring when aphids first become apparent.

Adequate rain or irrigation is required to move the product through the soil to the roots and up into large trees, and it may take several weeks to see an effect on aphids feeding on leaves. One application on hackberry is enough to control hackberry woolly aphid for two to three years. See Pest Notes: Hackberry Woolly Aphid for more discussion about control methods using imidacloprid.

Table 1. Common Aphids on Vegetables and Flowers.

Common name Scientific name Common hosts

Bean aphid

Aphis fabae Legumes, various woody ornamentals, and flowers

Cabbage aphid

Brevicoryne brassicae Cole crops and other mustard family plants

Green peach aphid

Myzus persicae Peppers, spinach, tomato, cucurbits, carrot, lettuce, legumes, corn, flowers, flowering plum, and stone fruit

Melon (cotton) aphid

Aphis gossypii Cucurbits, carrot, citrus, many flowers, and various woody landscape ornamentals

Potato aphid

Macrosiphum euphorbiae Potato, spinach, lettuce, tomato, and many others

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Table 2. Common Aphids of Fruit Trees.

Common name Scientific name Common hosts

Green apple aphid

Aphis pomi Apple, pear, hawthorne, cotoneaster

Leaf curl plum aphid

Brachycaudus helichrysi Plum, prune Curls leaves, goes to Asteraceae in summer

Mealy plum aphid

Hyalopterus pruni Plum, prune Curls and stunts leaves, goes to cattails and reeds in summer

Rosy apple aphid

Dysaphis plantaginea Apple Curls leaves, goes to plantain in summer

Woolly apple aphid

Eriosoma lanigerum Apple, pear, pyracantha, hawthorn Primarily found on wood or roots, creates galls in roots and waxy deposits

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Table 3. Some Problematic Aphids on Woody Ornamentals.
(Green peach aphid, bean aphid, and melon aphid may also occur on many woody ornamentals.)

Common name Scientific name Common hosts

Ash leaf curl aphid

Prociphilus species Ash (other Prociphilus species attack other trees) Causes leaves to curl, distort, and form pseudo-galls

Crapemyrtle aphid

Sarucallis kahawaluokalani Crape myrtle

Giant conifer aphid

Cinara species Fir, pine, spruce, cedar May be mistaken for ticks

Hackberry woolly aphid

Shivaphis celti Hackberry Produces waxy tufts

Oleander aphid

Aphis nerii Oleander, milkweed

Rose aphid

Macrosiphum rosae Rose

Tuliptree aphid

Illinoia liriodendri Tuliptree

WARNING ON THE USE OF PESTICIDES

PUBLICATION INFORMATION

Pest Notes: Aphids

UC ANR Publication 7404

Author: M. L. Flint, UC Statewide IPM Program and Entomology, UC Davis

Editor: C. Laning

Crapemyrtle aphid photo by Jim Baker, North Carolina State University, Bugwood.org

Produced by University of California Statewide IPM Program

PDF: To display a PDF document, you may need to use a PDF reader.

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Trap Plants For Aphids: Plants That Repel Aphids In The Garden

Among all the insects that can prey on your garden, aphids are some of the most common, and also some of the worst. Not only do they harm your plant and spread easily, they’re just plain gross. Fortunately, controlling aphids with plants is an easy and effective practice that anyone can do. Keep reading to learn more about plants that naturally repel aphids as well as trap plants for aphids.

Plants That Naturally Repel Aphids

While some plants seem to draw aphids out of nowhere, there are plenty of plants that repel aphids. These include plants in the allium family, such as

garlic, chives, and leeks.

Marigolds, known for being able to drive away all kinds of pests, have a scent that keeps aphids far away.

Catnip, known for attracting cats, also has a way of repelling most other pests, aphids included. Some other fragrant herbs, such as fennel, dill, and cilantro are also known to deter aphids.

Scatter any or all of these plants that repel aphids throughout your garden, planting them especially close to plants that tend to suffer from them.

Trap Plants for Aphids

While there are some plants that naturally repel aphids, some others are known to attract them. These are called trap plants for aphids, and they can be just as useful. They draw aphids away from other, more delicate plants and concentrate them in one place that can be sprayed or just plain removed.

Just make sure not to plant them too close to your valuable plants or the aphids might travel. Some good trap plants for aphids are nasturtiums and sunflowers. Sunflowers are so big and strong that they can take a real hit from aphids without suffering any damage.

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Table of Contents

Prevent & Get Rid of Aphids!

Aphids are definitely garden pests you want to get rid of if they’re in your garden. Aphids are the wingless spawn of the odd winged aphid, that feeds by sucking the sap from plants.

This can lead to large amounts of crop damaged in a short time as they reproduce rapidly.

A single aphid can produce 600 billion descendants in ONE season!

(Aphid life cycle info)

To make matters worse ants like to ‘farm’ aphids to keep them alive and eat the sweet nectar they produce. And to top it off they reproduce asexually (Parthenogenesis) so that means they reproduce without actually mating.

Seems like a lost cause doesn’t it?! Thankfully there are a few ways about how to prevent aphids.

In this post, I’ll go through how to Prevent & Get Rid of Aphids with companion planting.

We’ll also talk about attracting the pests that eat aphids and plants that repel them.

How to Get Rid of Aphids Naturally

  • Spraying water: Although you can try dislodging them with a hose, to be honest, it doesn’t always seem to work. Aphids can hide in all sorts of places.
  • Use homemade organic sprays (2 recipes for a tomato leaf & garlic spray) Keep in mind that sometimes they also get rid of beneficial insects and you have to keep applying them.
  • Insecticidal soap (learn how to make your own).
  • Ladybugs! This method is a form of natural pest control by attracting beneficial insects that eat the pests you are trying to get rid of. In this case, ladybugs eat and kill aphids. Below I go into details on why ladybugs are great and how to attract them naturally (you won’t be able to buy them anymore with the ongoing California drought).
  • Other bugs such as:
    • Aphidoletes
    • Brown & Green Lacewings
    • Aphid Parasites (A. Matricariae)
    • Aphid Predators (Aphidoletes aphidimyza)

Prevent and Get Rid of Aphids by attracting ladybugs

Ladybugs are capable of consuming up to 50 to 60 aphids per day but will also eat a variety of other insects and larvae including scales, mealy bugs, leaf hoppers, mites, and various types of soft-bodied insects (awesome right?!).

Both the adults and larvae are predators, and aphids are their favorite food! If you want in-depth information on the ladybug life cycle, check out this

Ladybugs are drawn to the frilly leaves of plants like dill, carrots, celery, parsley, fennel, wild carrot (Queen Anne’s lace) and also flowers like dandelions and tansy.

Companion Planting Tips – Plants that Repel Aphids

I like to grow carrots and celery around the brassicas which helps to attract ladybugs (celery also has a scent effect). I then inter-plant some alliums to deter pests off both the brassicas and the carrots (like for carrot fly).

Then I’ll add some herbs like basil around the corners and throw in some nasturtiums flowers in random places for a beautiful and beneficial anti-aphid garden bed.

I also made a border edge of Calendula flowers (pictured above) which is both pretty and strong-smelling.

More tips on how to Prevent Aphids:

  • Grow plants with strong scents to deter them: This method uses strong-smelling herbs (oregano, basil, chives, sage,…etc) and alliums (onions, garlic, leeks, green onions) to deter the flies from landing on your vegetables and then making aphid babies. This has worked AMAZING for the aphid control in our garden.
  • Companion planting: Growing plants like Nasturtiums or calendula flowers so you can draw the aphids away from your veggies and to the flowers instead.
  • Keep checking on your plants: Check over your crops more susceptible to aphids infestation on a frequent basis (like lettuce or brassicas) and blast them with soapy water if you spot any to prevent them from multiplying.

So to summarize. Aphids suck. But…

Companion Planting is the best method for long-term aphid prevention!

Here I share some veggie garden companion planting examples. In this post, you can learn about the flowers and herbs that are great for companion planting that can help you on how to prevent aphids.

Related Article: Plants that repel mice, don’t let them run around your garden!

Want to learn more about companion planting?

Check out this awesome graphic from YardSurfer.com

My name is Isis Loran, creator of the Family Food Garden. I’ve been gardening for over 10 years now and push the limits of our zone 5 climates. I love growing heirlooms & experimenting with hundreds of varieties, season extending, crunchy homesteading and permaculture.

The seed magazines have been coming in for the last couple of weeks, signaling me to get ready. This is the most exciting and anxious time of year. I feel like it’s the beginning of the growing season: like I am running out of time already. What a weird time of year, right?

If you have the same feeling I do, I feel bad for you. I guess my first worry is that the seeds I want to buy are almost sold out or are sold out. I do save most of my own seeds, but I still like to buy heirloom seeds I haven’t tried before. Experimentation is the only way to find the best flowers, fruits, and vegetables.

I am going to try and focus on pest control via plants. I had really good success last year using mums and dill as pest management. I used okra as a catch crop for aphids and that worked great. I just didn’t grow enough of these plants, and I want to grow other plants to make the lives of these pests miserable!

Last summer I protected my tomato plants by planting basil, mums, and cayenne around them. I literally interplanted in this clock pattern: 12:00 cayenne, 6:00 cayenne, 3:00 mum, 9:00 mum, and a tomato at the center with a basil plant. Yes, it seemed like I had an army surrounding my tomatoes, but I did not find one aphid or tomato worm on any of my tomato plants.

I may have gotten lucky, but I have never been that lucky before. The only problem I noticed was blossom end rot. I quickly cured this by pulling any suspect tomatoes and working in a handful of crushed oyster shells at the base of each plant.

This was a nice setup because I had everything I needed for tomato sauce in one place. What a delicious way to keep the pests off the tomato plants. Next year, I will have to plant my garlic and onions closer and make it even easier to make my tomato sauce.

I have a ton of faith in interplanting to control bugs. These are a few plants I want to use and what they will repel.

Plants that Repel Pests

Basil- Repels flies, mosquitoes, carrot fly and white flies.
Borage- Repels tomato hornworm and cabbage worms.
Chamomile- Repels flies, mosquitoes, carrot fly.
Chives- Repels carrot fly, aphids and Japanese beetles.
Cilantro- Repels aphids, potato beetles and spider mites.
Cosmos- Repels Corn earworm.
Dill- Repels aphids, squash bugs, spider mites, cabbage looper and small white.
Fennel- Repels aphids, slugs and snails.
Garlic- Repels root maggots, cabbage looper, peach tree borer and rabbits.
Geraniums- Repels corn earworm and small white.
Hyssop- Repels cabbage looper and small white.
Lavender- Repels moths, fleas, mosquitos and flies.
Lemon balm- Repels mosquitoes.
Parsley- Repels asparagus beetles.
Peppermint- Repels aphids, cabbage looper, flea beetles, squash bugs, winter flies and small white.
Radish- Repels cabbage maggot and cucumber beetles.
Tansy- Repels ants, beetles, flies, squash bugs, cutworms, whiteflies, tomato hornworm and small white.
Thyme- Repels cabbage moth and white flies.
Tobacco- Repels carrot fly and flea beetles.
Tomato- Repels asparagus beetles.

More companion planting information here:

Grow Pest Repelling Plants

Buying all these plants can become very expensive. Many people may use pesticides because it’s easier and cheaper. Pesticides are never cheaper; have you ever heard the statement “Pay the doctor or pay the farmer.” Well, I will pay myself and plant the seed. The best way to get all the plants you need is to grow them from seed.

I know this can seem overwhelming, but take it one step at a time. Make a list of your vegetables and fruit plants you want to grow. Then I follow these steps:

1. I write the name of the plant in my journal.
2. Beneath it, I write the pests this plant attracts.
3. I look at the list above and write down the plants that repel the pests.
4. Then, I write down the heights of each plant, so I can place them according to the sun.
5. Finally, I draw the placement of the pants according to the ones I will use.

I know this may seem like a lot of work, but you will only really have to do this once. Then, year after year, you can go to your planting journal as a refresher. This is an example of what I do:

Plant: Sweet Pepper
Pests: Aphids, Beet Armyworm, Potato Beetle, Flea Beetles, Leafminers, Spider Mites, Corn Earworm
Repelling plants: Chives, Cilantro, Dill, Fennel, Peppermint, Lavender, Tobacco, Cosmos
Notes: Birds will take care of the insects that the companion plants can’t repel.

I don’t have to use every one of the Repelling plants, but I will use the ones I want. The more you plant, the better the chance they will repel the pests. Some plants will have different growing times and habits, so take them all into consideration and keep notes on everything.

The biggest mistakes I ever made usually revolved around not keeping growing notes and dates. So, as I got older and wiser, (depending on who you ask) I found out that taking the time to write it down actually saves time on future mistakes.

Just because you have this list doesn’t mean you have to stick by it. I don’t like rules and I always find things that work for me even though they shouldn’t, so I use this as a guide and experiment. Grow the same plants in different ways while taking notes on what works and what won’t.

The last suggestion I have is to put a bird bath in the middle of your garden and build a bunch of bird houses. Build your own bird houses and put them every 10’. You can find free plans online and make different houses to attract different birds. My pest problems have been significantly reduced ever since I made my food forest bird friendly!

Wrens eat pests:
https://permaculturenews.org/2014/09/16/reducing-bug-pests-house-wrens/

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