If you’ve been having trouble with aphids on your houseplants, you’re not alone.
These pesky little bugs can quickly become a big problem if left unchecked. They can also be tough to get rid of, but with a few simple steps, you can eliminate them and keep them from coming back.
Read on for tips on how to get rid of aphids on houseplants!
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What are aphids?
Aphids are small, pear-shaped insects with soft bodies. They can be different colors, typically green, black, brown, red, yellow, or even gray.
Aphids feed by sucking the sap from plants.
They also reproduce rapidly and can produce live young with or without mating.
Do aphids harm houseplants?
Yes, aphids can cause a lot of damage to houseplants if left unchecked. They can weaken plants and make them more susceptible to disease.
They also secrete a sticky substance called honeydew, which can attract other pests like ants and create sooty mold on the plant’s leaves.
This can all lead to stunted growth, yellowing leaves, and even death in severe cases.
Are aphids harmful to humans?
No, aphids are not harmful to humans, they are just a nuisance.
Since aphids can reproduce rapidly, they are quite noticeable and hard to not see when looking at or caring for your plants. If you are like me, just the fact that they are there is annoying.
Their sap can also be an issue, especially if it starts attracting ants (who absolutely love the honeydew from aphids).
Signs of an aphid infestation
The most obvious sign of an aphid infestation is the presence of these small insects on the leaves or stems of your plant.
You might also see honeydew, ants, or sooty mold on the leaves. You may also notice white exoskeletons (the shed skin of the aphids) on the leaves of your plant or near the base of the plant.
If you suspect you have an aphid problem, it’s best to take action right away. The sooner you get rid of them, the better.
How do aphids get on indoor plants?
Aphids can hitchhike their way into your home on new plants or on clothing.
They can also be blown in by the wind through open doors or windows.
How to get rid of aphids on houseplants
There are many safe and easy methods that you can use to eliminate aphids on houseplants.
Wipe the aphids away
You can remove aphids from your plants by simply wiping them off with a damp cloth or paper towel.
This is most effective on small infestations.
Soap and water
You can make a homemade insecticidal soap by mixing Dawn dish soap (the original variety) and water.
To do this, mix 1 teaspoon of dish soap with 1 quart of water.
Spray the mixture directly on the aphids that are on your plant. Make sure to check the whole plant, including the undersides of the leaves.
Repeat once a week for a month. According to Gardening Mentor, using it longer than a month risks damaging your plants. This happens because the properties that make Dawn a good dish soap can also break down the natural protective coatings on most plants.
You can use ready-made insecticidal soap. For best results follow the instructions on the label.
Insecticidal soap should be safer for the plant than using dish soap, but some sensitive plants may still be damaged by its use.
Insecticidal soap works by direct contact, so make sure to spray every aphid you see.
Neem oil is a natural product made from the seeds of the neem tree. It’s effective against aphids and many other types of insects.
To use, mix 1 to 2 tablespoons of neem oil with 1 gallon of water. Mix well and regularly. Neem oil, being oil, separates quickly when mixed with water. Also, only mix as much as you can use as the neem oil starts to break down when added to water.
Spray the mixture onto the plant, making sure to cover the entire plant, including the underside of the leaves.
Repeat once a week for a month.
Neem oil can cause burns on plants that are in direct sunlight when it is applied. It’s best to move any plants out of direct sunlight before applying and wait until after it has dried before returning them to direct light.
Another option is to use rubbing alcohol to kill the aphids. You can do this in two ways:
This method involves using full-strength rubbing alcohol and applying it directly to each aphid. Do this by dipping a q-tip in the rubbing alcohol and then touch the aphids. This method works best if you only have a few aphids.
Spray it on
If you have more aphids than you want to treat with the direct method, you can use rubbing alcohol as a spray as well.
To do this, mix 1 part rubbing alcohol with 4 parts water, then pour into a spray bottle.
Spray the mixture on the aphids and let it dry for a few hours. It’s recommended to then rinse the plant to remove any remaining alcohol.
Repeat this once a week for 3 to 4 weeks.
Unfortunately, rubbing alcohol is another treatment that has the potential to harm your plants (at least the spray-on version does). You can either test it on a small portion of your plant or try another method.
Cut away infested areas
For bad infestations, you may need to cut away the infested areas of the plant.
Do this by cutting off any leaves or stems that have aphids on them and disposing of them in the trash.
Be sure to disinfect your scissors or shears with rubbing alcohol before and after use to prevent the spread of disease or pests.
Yellow sticky traps
You can also use yellow sticky traps to control aphids.
These work by attracting insects with their color and then trapping them on the sticky surface.
You can purchase these at most garden centers or online.
Place the traps around the perimeter of your plant and check them regularly. When they’re full, dispose of them and replace them with new ones.
There are also many predators that will eat aphids, including ladybugs and lacewings.
You can purchase these predators at your local garden center and release them onto your plants.
They will help to control the aphid population by eating the aphids. This should also keep them from coming back.
The only downside with this method is that now you have ladybugs or lacewings in your house.
Many people swear by this method, but for me, it’s not one I will try on my houseplants. I just don’t want bugs in my house, beneficial or not.
As a last resort, you can use chemical sprays to get rid of aphids.
Do this only if you’ve tried other methods and they haven’t worked or if the infestation is severe.
Be sure to follow the instructions on the label for the best results.
Chemical sprays can be harmful to both people and plants, so use them only as a last resort.
How to prevent aphids from coming back
Once you’ve gotten rid of the aphids, you’ll want to take some steps to prevent them from coming back. While these methods will help prevent future aphid outbreaks, there is no way to guarantee that you will never see these bugs again.
Here are a few things you can do to reduce the chances of future aphid outbreaks:
Inspect your plants regularly
The number one thing you can do is inspect your plants regularly. Inspecting them regularly will help you identify an aphid infestation early.
Catching them early makes it easier to get rid of them and easier to prevent them from spreading to more plants.
Neem oil as a preventative
Neem oil can be used as a preventative as well as a treatment for aphids. Regular application to your plants will help prevent aphids (and other pests) from making your plants their home and dinner.
Applying neem oil as a preventative is done the same way as using it as a treatment except for the frequency. When used as a preventative you only need to apply it every other week instead of weekly.
Quarantine new plants
Another way to prevent aphids is to quarantine all new plants for a few days to a week.
This allows you to find out if the plant has aphids or other pests before putting it by your current houseplants.
If it ends up having pests, you can treat it while it’s in quarantine and prevent it from spreading beyond that plant.
Have aphid-repelling plants
Some plants naturally repel aphids and having these plants around your other plants might help prevent aphids.
According to The Free Range Life basil, rosemary, mint, and catnip will all repel aphids.
Marigolds are also known to repel many insects and may help with aphids as well.
Unfortunately, this method of preventing aphids works better outside than inside, but it’s worth a try.
Do aphids bite humans?
No, aphids do not bite humans. They may suck the sap from your plants, but they will not bite you.
Do spiders eat aphids?
Yes, spiders will eat aphids if they get in their web.
Do aphids live in the soil?
No, the aphids you find on your plant do not live in the soil. There is a different type, root aphids, that live in the soil, but they are not the same bug.
If left unchecked, aphids can be a big problem for houseplants. Thankfully, there are many safe and easy methods that you can use to get rid of them.
No matter which method you use, or combination of methods, the most important thing is to catch them early and treat them quickly.
With a little work and time, you can be rid of aphids before they do too much harm to your plants.