If I have to describe an aphid by any other name, that name would be, annoying. They are the most common issue in all home vegetable gardens because they thrive in a variety of climates, reproduce quickly, and can do massive amounts of damage. Failure to tackle your aphid issue head on could result in a less than an adequate harvest or no harvest at all.
Aphids attack just about every plant that you have. In fact, after I did some research for this article I could not find a single plant grown in a home vegetable garden that an aphid did not call lunch.
They come in a wide range of colors and sizes, most notably white and pear shaped. They reproduce asexually and because they do so, the rate of reproduction is tremendous. The home vegetable garden is the perfect location for aphids to thrive because there are plenty of leaves and soft stemmed plants to “chew” on, which is perfect for them.
Aphids will remain in an area of a single plant until either the plant is no longer providing adequate food or the aphid population increases to where they are overcrowded. They will then form wings, fly away and start the process all over again at the nearest plant. This process will continue until either all the plants are gone or you deal with the situation at hand.
There are some great solutions you can use and when applied in conjunction with one another, your aphid problem will clear up that much quicker.
For starters do not be afraid to use some yellow sticky traps. Sure you might get a few other insects you weren’t counting on, but they do a great job attracting aphids. You can pick up a three pack of yellow sticky traps at your local home center for less than two dollars.
Next use some neem oil soap. It is harmless to humans, pets and your vegetation. It does a nice job in prevention. A garlic or hot pepper spray will work just as well as neem oil soap but must be reapplied after heavy watering and your fruits and vegetables should be rinsed thoroughly.
The best solution is also the easiest and safest. Ladybugs! They eat aphids and they eat their bodyweight in a single day. Ladybugs can be purchased for about fifteen dollars for about 1000 of them from a local garden center or online. As long as there are aphids, the ladybugs will stay until the aphids are gone. You can also grow some fennel which attracts ladybugs, but that will take a bit longer than simply buying “ready to go” ladybugs.