Aphids are very tiny sucking insects that are soft; pear shaped and may be green, pink, yellowish, black or powdery gray. Anyways, since you’re a gardener you know how threatening their presence in abundance can be to your crops. You wouldn’t really be bothered if their numbers were meager, but when the situation resembles a Rolling Stone’s concert you will take notice!
Other than actually seeing them in abundance, you can be alert to their presence if you see a long ant trail. Very much like groupies, ants worship the ground aphids walk on. The reason is that while aphids suck the life out of your plants, they secrete sweet sticky “honeydew” that ants find irresistible.
Aphid colonies tend to grow quickly, infesting one plant and quickly moving on to another. They can have devastating effects on your crops if you do not take action immediately.
Organic Aphid Control
1) Know your beneficial insects. They are your cavalry in the war against aphids. Parasitic wasps, lacewings, leather-wings and lady bugs should be the first part of your defense. Or attack. Lady bugs eat an average of 5,000 aphids in their lifetime.
2) Wash them off using a forceful stream of water. They are thrown off the plant and end up breaking their jaw so in the event that they get back on your plant they won’t feed too well! This is usually good for light-medium infestations.
3) Plants that attract beneficial insects are a must in your garden. Dandelions, Coriander, Dill, Fennel, Prairie sunflower, Parsley are few among plenty of plants that attract the good guys.
4) You can use a mild insecticidal soap available in the market. Choose a product that does not have perfumes or additives that may harm plants. Mix the soap in water (make a weak solution at first) and spray on plants.
5) You could always just wipe them off with a cloth or prune the leaves under which they feed.
6) Control their henchmen, the ants, by using Tanglefoot or Stickem around the base of your plant or tree.
7) Neem oil is supposedly great as, in addition to its insecticidal properties, it is a fungicide and has systemic benefits (the plant absorbs it, in turn controlling insects it doesn’t contact directly). It has been given the go ahead to be used on vegetables and ornamentals as it is safe by the Environmental Protection Association.