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.