Aphids can be one of the most pesky pests that you can find in your vegetable garden. One of the worst things about aphids is they are very hard to see, unless you have an infestation of them.

If you find a colorful mass of what looks like tiny dots on a plant that seem to be moving around it is probably aphids.

Aphids are very common in most home gardens, depending on what part of the country you live in.

I know here in Virginia, aphids are a dime a dozen.

Here's a little information on what an aphid is, what kinds of damage they do in the vegetable garden and tactics you can use for getting rid of aphids.

What Are Aphids?

Aphids are very tiny insects that suck the juices from plant leaves and stems. They are very brightly colored most of the time and are green, yellow, red, brown, or black depending on the species.

Getting Rid of Aphids
They have long legs and antennae in the front with two short appendages protruding from the rear. These rear appendages is what makes the aphid identifiable since no other insect has anything similar.

Most aphids you find will not have wings, but there are some species that develop wings when populations become high.

You will seldom see aphids feeding alone. They like to be in large numbers and usually stay in large groups.

Aphid Damage In the Vegetable Garden

A few aphids on your vegetable plants is not much to worry about; they won't do a bunch of damage.

Large populations of aphids can severely damage plants cauing leaf curl, wilting, yellowing leaves, and stunted growth.

Many times a sure sign of aphids on your plants is the presence of ants. Ants are attreacted to a sweet substance secreted by aphids called honeydew.

Ants Are Attracted to Aphids
Aphids are known to transmit and spread viral diseases to vegetable plants. These diseases are what cause the deformed leaves and stems.

The most vulnerable vegetables to the diseases are squash, cucumbers, beans, lettuces, and other cole crops just to name a few.

A large infestation of ahpids can cause widespread damage to these crops and others.

Prevention of Aphids

There are a few tactics you can use for getting rid of aphids if you find them in large numbers on your vegetables.

Aphids can be difficult to control, but with some persistence you can control their numbers.

Attract Beneficial Insects

Plant flowers and other plants in and around your vegetable garden that attract beneficial insects.

There are many insects that prey on aphids such as, ladybugs and lacewings. Ladybugs can eat as many as 50 to 100 aphids a day!

You can also purchase ladybugs and lacewings and introduce them to your vegetable garden. It's best to place them within close proximity to the aphids so they can start dining right away.

LadyBug Eating an Aphid
If you place them too far away from the potential meal they may just fly away.

Some species of parasitic wasps also attack aphids, leaving just an empty shell of the insect.

Check Your Garden Area Before Planting

Check around your yard, or property, before planting your vegetables. Check to see if aphids are already present in your area and take measures to reduce their numbers.

Remove and discard any plants already present that seem to be attracting aphids. If you can't remove the infected plants, trim off any areas where aphids have been present and discard of them in the trash to prevent the spread of disease.

Avoid Fertilizers High In Nitrogen

Avoid using fertilizers high in nitrogen in the vegetable garden. Nitrogen helps to promote aphid reproduction.

Use compost, or organic fertilizers to eliminate high nitrogen factors.

Getting Rid of Aphids

Getting rid of aphids can be quite the challenge. If you find just a few on your plants knock them off with a stream of water from the hose. Be careful not to damage the plant with a heavy stream of water.

Swarm of Aphids
You can also spray the aphids with a mixture of warm soapy water in a spray bottle. Use the stream setting on the bottle to blast the aphids off.

Insecticides should only be used for extreme infestations of aphids. The best pesticides to use are insecticidal soap and neem oil.

Insecticidal soap and neem oil should be applied directly on the ahpids to be most effective.

It needs to coat the insects so it will suffocate and kill them. This spray may need to be applied several times for large populations.

Aphid traps can also be placed around the vegetable garden, or in close proximity to plants vulnerable.

The traps are basically similar to fly paper which attracts aphids. The aphids will stick to the paper and die.

Placing these traps around your yard is a great way to test to see if you have aphids around. Place a couple in various places and see if any aphids are collected. If you go out and find them in the trap, you know you have aphids!

Be Diligent When Getting Rid of Aphids

If you are diligent about getting rid of aphids you can reduce, or eliminate, them from your vegetable garden.

While small numbers are not too difficult to control, it may take several tactics to get rid of large infestations.

Just make sure to frequently check your plants thoroughly and stay ahead of them.

Image of ant with aphids from www.richsoil.com/antsandaphids
Image of aphid swarm from www.dl-digital.com/aphids_flowers.htm

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