HOW TO IDENTIFY THEM
Aphids are tiny, soft insects with six legs. They come in many colours including white, green, black and brown. Although they do have wings, most of the time you can see them living in clusters on young shoots, buds and leaves. Aphids attack a wide range of plants but especially rose buds and vegetables.
THE DAMAGE THEY CAUSE
Aphids have mouths that suck the sap from plants which causes the buds and young leaves to wilt and die. If aphids are on a plant, the flowers won’t grow properly and vegetables might not form because the buds are damaged.
HOW TO CONTROL THEM
Ladybirds love aphids and can eat up to 500 aphids a week! Build a lady bird house to encourage more of them to live in the garden and plant lots of plants with tiny flowers such as dill and alyssum in the garden for the ladybirds to enjoy. CLICK HERE to find out more about ladybirds.
Aphids can also be squirted off the buds with a high pressure hose but sometimes they just come back. If you’re not too squeemish and there aren’t too many, squash them between your fingers. Planting lots of onions in the garden is also a good way of confusing the aphids as the smell of the onions masks the smell of the vegetables that they love to eat.
There are some organic sprays available at garden centres which have chilli and garlic in them which the aphids hate. Also, pyrethrum is another spray that they hate and this is safe for you to use but it does have to be sprayed directly onto the aphids to work and afterwards the vegetables can’t be picked for at least two days.
Where there are aphids, there are often ants. The ants ‘farm’ the aphids, taking care of them and carrying them to other spots so that they keep on breeding. The ants do this because the love the sweet, sticky liquid that the aphids excrete. If there are aphids in the garden, look out for ants as these need to be controlled to, otherwise they will just carry back more aphids!
Ants like the honey dew that aphids excrete so they look after them and make sure they are happy. This ant is tending to his ‘aphid farm’.