Aphids in the Garden

One of our very observant volunteers noticed an infestation of aphids on some of the kale two weeks ago.  Wanting to see if some natural predators (ladybugs, wasps, lacewings, etc.) would take care of the aphids, we left the aphids sucking away on the kale. Sunday, however, I noticed the little buggers spread across the garden to some more kale across the garden.

Aphids are common small, soft bodied garden pests.  They like to feed by sucking the juice out of green, leafy plants and injecting saliva into the plant.  In small numbers, aphids do not cause a lot of plant damage, but they can quickly reproduce and spread disease between plants.  For more information about aphids, please visit this Virginia Cooperative Extension website.

To remedy the aphids, we sprayed a natural mix of water, cooking oil, and dish soap on the existing aphids.  This formula works by clogging the respiratory tubes on the back of the aphids and essentially suffocating the insects.  The mix is non-toxic and biodegrades once washed from the plant leaves.  This will likely not take care of all of the aphids, but it should reduce the population to a manageable level for other insects to take care of the rest.

Arguably the best way to control garden pests is by encouraging beneficial insects through planting a variety of plants and flowers.  While we have some flowers in the garden, the spring planting will surely include more planted throughout the garden to attract such beneficials as bees, ladybugs, lacewings, and more.

Insects are a vital part of every garden – we look forward to learning more about the hundreds of bugs that help our plants grow!  Please feel free to share any more facts about aphids and/or beneficial bugs.

Aphids on the kale
Aphids on the kale
More aphids.....
More aphids.....
Spraying the aphids
Spraying the aphids
Can you identify this moth?
Can you identify this moth?

2 thoughts on “Aphids in the Garden

  1. Brandon

    Those are a ton of aphids! That sounds like an effective method of pest control. I’m having this problem with my tomato plants. I found an organic spray while searching online called Safer Brand Tomato and Vegetable Insect Killer. Have you heard of this? I like how easy it is to use and how it targets so many different bugs.

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