Aphids can become a major pest within you home and threaten all of your houseplants. They come from outside your home, brought in by new plants, fresh fruit or flowers, aphids can also enter your house all by themselves or carried in by ants.
Getting rid of aphids is challenging because it takes quite some time before you can fully eradicate them from your home but the process is extremely simple. Aphids can be controlled by using:
– Soapy water
– Neem oil
– Rubbing alcohol
All of these products will control the spread of aphids and kill them so that they don’t become a further problem.
What do aphids look like and how can you identify them?
Aphids are very tiny bugs which are most often green. Adult aphids, however, can take on many colours, most commonly black but they can also be blue, red and brown. This makes diagnosing aphids a little bit tricky, don’t worry though because most of the aphid treatments and prevention that we’ll cover will work well on a lot of other bugs too.
Aphid eggs are extremely tiny as well and are usually only seen when they are grouped together as they look like a fine white powder.
Some aphids can also have wings. Winged aphids are much more rare than the common variety most often seen on houseplants. They are still something to watch out for though because having wings makes the other plants inside your home much more accessible to these pests.
If you’re having trouble identifying aphids, just go by these common features. If they are very small, fat and juicy looking, they’re most likely aphids.
There will be a variety of different images of aphids through this article for you to see the variations in colours.
Where do aphids come from?
Aphids don’t just appear out of thin air, although sometimes it may feel like that, in fact they are almost always brought into your house by yourself.
The most common way aphids arrive in your home are on new plants or soil you buy. When you bring in new plants or plant products into your home, if they are infested by aphids or aphid eggs, the bugs can spread within your home and onto your other plants. This is really commonly happens with new growers particularly because aphids can be really small, sometimes impossible to see unless you are up close. The eggs of aphids are even harder to see, individually they are almost microscopic, they are usually only spotted when they are grouped together, when this happens they look like a fine white powder.
Aphids are also often brought in by fresh cut flowers or fresh fruit. Aphids can thrive of most organic matter, this doesn’t exclude fresh flowers and fruit. This makes sense as aphids feed of plants, flowers and fruits, being part of plants mean that aphids are commonly found there. Bringing them into your home can also lead to you bringing in an aphid infestation. Keep this in mind when choosing which fruit you’ll put in your cart at the grocery store!
In the summer especially, aphids can make their way into your home all by themselves. Being so small, they’re able to make their way through the smallest cracks, smallest gaps between windows and doors. Some aphids are also able to fly, which makes this transition from the outside world into your home somewhat easy.
Ants can also bring aphids into your home. Why does this happen? Well it makes a lot of sense as these two pests work together to get what they both want. As aphids feed on the sap of plants, the plant releases a dew-like substance which contains glucose, the ants then feed on this substance. Ants can only get to this part of the plant after aphids have done what they need to do. So if you have ants in your home, be careful because they could be the source of an aphid infestation.
How do aphids hurt plants?
Aphids feed by sucking the sap out of your plants, whether it be from the leaves, stems, buds or flowers. They often like to feed while grouped together, targeting in particular new growth as it is easier to obtain the sap from. Because aphids feed together you’ll sometimes find a sticky residue left behind by them (this is what ants feed on). If you see a sticky residue on your plants, it is a good indication that you may have an aphid issue on your hands.
This feeding can hurt your plant by stunting their growth or causing new growth to be deformed whether it be leaves or flowers. The damaged caused by aphids may also lead to leaves and flowers dropping from your plant and making leaves turn yellow.
Can aphids kill my plants?
Yes, aphids can kill plants. It does take a long time or a major infestation to do this though. Considering they only feed off the sap, something a plant reproduces every day, a plant can live through an aphid infestation for quite some time. Whilst it obviously isn’t the healthiest thing for a plant and is something that requires attention immediately, there is no reason or you to get stressed and think that your plant is going to die. As long as you take care of the situation you can very easily save your plant from aphids.
What is an aphid’s life cycle?
Aphids have a rather short life cycle, only lasting about a week or so. In that time they go from eggs, to a mature adult which can lay more eggs and increase the population. Because of this very short life cycle, aphid populations can increase exponentially. Once a plant becomes crowded and the food source becomes scarce, aphids will move onto the next plant by either flying or crawling over to it. As you can see, it is very important that you sort these guys out before they become a major infestation and kill your houseplants.
How do you get rid of aphids?
There are a variety of different ways to get rid of aphids, a lot of people choose to go with the chemical route by purchasing a commercial solution from the garden store. These can be very effective but it is important to follow the instructions on the packaging.
There are some alternative solutions that are more natural, more cost effective and just as helpful in getting rid of aphids however.
The first thing you’ll need to do once you have identified that you have an aphid infestation and that is to quarantine any plants that are affected. This is a very important part of making sure that you completely kill off the community and stop them from reappearing days later. To do this, put any affected pant into a different room of your house or even outside. As long as it is away from other living organic matter in your home.
You can use a solution of soapy water to kill aphids. Soapy water will kill aphids on contact. This is incredibly useful because every house should have some form of soap in it. When doing this, put your plant in a sink, bathtub or shower and try to wash away as many of the visible aphids you can see. After this, use a mild soapy water solution to wipe down the leaves of the plant. Any aphids left over will be killed by this process. Before you do this to your plant, test the method out on one leaf first to make sure that it wont do more harm than good.
You can also use rubbing alcohol to kill aphids as well as other bests. To do this, make a 50/50 mix of rubbing alcohol and water and put it into a spray bottle. Remember to test this mix on a small part of your plant first to make sure that it wont damage the plant further.
Spray the solution onto the plant, make sure not to completely saturate it and any bugs it comes into contact with, including aphids, will be killed. This method is especially good if the bugs are flying as it covers a large surface area. It also means that you can target specific areas.
Neem oil is another great way to get rid of aphids. Neem oil is a natural insectiside which is very effective in controlling aphids. By making a neem oil solution (reading the instructions on the packaging, of course) you can target specific areas of your plant by using a spray bottle to disperse the solution. The real bonus with using neem oil is knowing that the aphids will be killed and there will be no lingering effects on your plants.
Aphids sometimes have wings and can fly, so using a sticky trap can also be helpful. Using those yellow sticky bug traps will be helpful in controlling your aphid situation. Those more mobile bugs will be lured towards the sweet scent and will get stuck to the paper, eventually dying. This is very convenient as they are easy to use and you can see the results of your aphid killing efforts.
How do you prevent aphids from coming back in the furure?
Now that you’ve learned how to get rid of your aphid infestation, you’re going to want to make sure that you don’t have the same issue in the future. Luckily, some of the fixes we just mentioned are also able to be used as prevention.
Using a neem oil solution spray every now and then will work wonders for not only keeping aphids away but a large variety of garden pests. This doesn’t have to be a daily or even weekly thing, every now and then, if you spray your plants with the solution you’ll go a long way to keeping them happy and making sure they continue to grow.
Make sure to always check your plants for a possible aphid infestation. If you’ve had them once before, they can become a reoccurring problem if you’re not diligent. Once you’ve had them once, you will be able to tell the sings to look for but this time you know what to do. So by visually inspecting the plant for aphids every now and then, if the problem comes back, you’ll be able to jump on it much quicker and take control faster.
The best way to prevent an aphid infestation is to not bring them into your house all together. As mentioned, aphids are often introduced into your home by yourself. This is why it is important to quarantine any new plant or potting mix purchases you may do. All that is needed is to keep them separated from the other plants in your home, preferably in another room. Watch them for at least 2 days. If there are no signs of aphids then it should be safe to introduce those plants into your home and amongst your other plants.
As you can see, aphids, if left to infest your plants can become a major issue. Whilst they’re mostly annoying and very displeasing to the eye, if left without management, they can kill your plants and become a problem in your home for an extended period of time.
Thankfully, fixing this issue is rather simple and preventing the issue in the first place is even more simple. Now that you know how to control aphids you can go on to enjoy your beautiful houseplants in peace.