Aphid Damage

The Fun Way to Get Rid of Aphids

By Erin Huffstetler | 07/02/2018 | 3 Comments
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Aphids have always munched on my rose bushes, but this year we have a mad infestation, and I decided it was finally time to do something about it.

So, I jumped online and ordered a solution. It arrived in yesterday’s mail.

Box of Ladybugs

See the holes in the sides of the box? That’s a sure sign that you’ve received something good. My last box with holes had chicks inside. This one had

Bag of Ladybugs

Ladybugs. 1,500 ladybugs to be exact.

Pretty dang cool, if you ask me. Even cooler if you happen to know that an adult ladybug can eat 5,000 aphids in its lifetime (around a year), and that their larvae munch down on another 400 a piece.

To get ladybugs to stay where you want them, you’re supposed to release them in the evening. This gives them enough time to find food, water and a place to sleep, but hopefully not enough time to fly off and explore. Ladybugs stick close to their food, so if you put them somewhere with a pest problem, they should stay put.

The instructions that came with my package said that the ladybugs would be thirsty from their travels, and recommended that you hose down the plants that you’d be releasing them on, so they’d have an immediate source of water.

We had three different rose bushes that we wanted to treat, so they all got a good hosing …

Releasing Ladybugs

And then we released our ladybugs! So much more fun than spraying!

Hopefully they’re celebrating their new home with a big feast and some baby making.

Want to order some ladybugs for your yard? This is where I got mine.

Will These Ladybugs Invade My Home in the Winter?

Nope. As long as you buy native lady bugs, Hippodamia convergens, also known as the convergent ladybug, you won’t have anything to worry about. They overwinter outdoors. It’s the Asian ladybug that likes to overwinter in your house.

Other Bugs You Can Buy to Eat Your Aphids

Ladybugs are a good option when the temperatures are below 90 degrees. If you’re already past that point for the year, consider buying green lacewing larvae instead.

You can also purchase parasitic wasps to take care of your aphids. Try Aphidius ervi, Aphidius colemani or Aphidius abdominalis. Arabico Organics is one source for these.

More Ways to Get Rid of Aphids

While buying bugs to eat your aphids is arguably the most fun way to get rid of an infestation, there are other methods you can use to annihilate this pest. Here are some options to consider:

Spray Them With Water
Aphids need to stay close to their food source to survive, so knocking them off your plants with a strong blast of water from your garden hose can be an effective means of control. Do this every couple days, until you have the situation under control. Be sure to get the back sides of leaves, too.

Spray Them With Soapy Water
Combine one teaspoon of dish soap and a quart of water. Then, transfer the mixture to a spray bottle and spray your infected plants liberally. This can be used on both indoor and outdoor plants. Some plants may be sensitive to the soap mixture, so test it on a small spot, before you treat the entire plant.

Spray Them With Rubbing Alcohol
Create a spray from equal parts rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol) and water. Then, use it to treat your aphid-infested plants. This works on houseplants and outdoor plants alike. Just be sure to treat any outdoor plants in the morning or evening. Treating them during the heat of the day could harm the plants. If you’re dealing with a small infestation, another option is to use a cotton swab to apply full-strength alcohol directly to the aphids. This will kill them on contact. Repeat this treatment every couple days, until you no longer see aphids.

Spray Them With Fungus
Beauveria bassiana is a parasitic fungus that kills aphids and other nuisance bugs, like grasshoppers, thrips and whiteflies, by infecting them with muscadine disease. This naturally-occurring fungus is completely harmless to humans and other beneficial pests. Just spray it on the infected plants, and it’ll start spreading its spores. Here are several products that contain this fungus.

Spray Them Insecticidal Soap
Some aphids species have become resistant to insecticidal soap, so I wouldn’t recommend running out to buy a bottle, but if you happen to have some on hand, it may be worth a try. Since insecticidal soap only kills the aphids it comes into contact with, be thorough in your application. Aphids often hide on the back sides of leaves, as well as in the crooks of stems.

Not Sure If You’re Dealing With Aphids or Another Garden Pest?

Aphids are small, soft-bodied bugs. The adults are less than a quarter-inch long, and are usually wingless (but not always). Since there are around 5,000 identified species of aphids, in every color imaginable – white, brown, gray, black, yellow, pink and light green – it’s usually easiest to identify aphids by the damage they do to their host plants.

If you have plants with leaves that are yellow, curled, wilted or dying, especially new growth leaves, this may be a sign that you have aphids. Look closely at the leaves, and see if there’s a sticky substance on the surface. Aphids excrete a sticky goo, known as honeydew, which ants love. And that leads us to the next clue: If you see a bunch of ants marching around on your plant, that’s a pretty good indicator that you’re dealing with aphids. Use the strategies outlined above to get rid of them.

Left unchecked, aphids will suck sap from your plants, until they’ve been weakened to a point where they’re no longer a viable food source. All of this sap loss slows growth, diminishes yield and may eventually kill the plant. Aphids are also notorious for spreading diseases from one plant to another, and the honeydew that they leave behind on leaves, could lead to sooty mold.

More Pest Control How-Tos:

How to Build a Ladybug House

How to Build a Ladybug House

Bat Houses

More Organic Pest Control Solutions

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Comments

  1. Thanks so much for your wonderful advice! My aphids are on my sunflowers and my roses, working on my ladybug order right now!

    • I buy lacewing eggs, the larvae eat the aphids. I also purchase praying mantis egg cases, it’s so cute to watch the babies emerge from the cases .. they took care of the aphids on my tomatoes last year … my egg cases are safely tucked away in paper bags awaiting their arrival for this year… happy gardening.. love this site .. thank you for sharing

  2. Just received my order of 1500 Lady Bugs – April 7, 2017. I have a rose garden with four healthy, ,old rose bushes already blooming more roses than I could have hoped for in this, our new home in the desert. I ordered the Lady Bugs because I didn’t want to take any chances and lose anything to aphids.
    thanks for the advice.
    Rita