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If you are a plant lover like myself, you probably know that feeling when you are looking at your beautiful flowers and plants and then you notice something is not quite right. When you come closer, you notice that tiny little pestilence called aphids on your indoor plants.
There are several ways on how to deal with this problem. Some are simple, as removing them with your hands, spraying them away with water, but some are a bit more complicated, like using products specialized for dealing with aphids on indoor plants.
Since there is a lot to talk about, let’s get into it, shall we?
What Are Aphids?
If you have ever watched a movie called “Starship Troopers” then you have some idea of how aphids look like. Ugly bugs, capable of sucking out their prey to a pulp.
Of course, aphids are way, way smaller than the bugs from the movie. They can reach a length of 3 mm and they can often be very annoying.
Aphids belong to the family of Aphididae, which is a category of insects that includes around 5 thousand species, with over a couple of hundreds that are considered as a liability to the gardening and the agriculture itself.
The real problem is that aphids on indoor plants tend to multiply very fast, so it is crucial to stop them from spreading as soon as possible.
How to Recognize Aphids On Indoor Plants?
It is not that easy to recognize aphids, not because they are so unrecognizable, but due to the fact that they are very small and barely visible to the human eye, so it can be hard to catch them on sight.
There are several species of aphids on indoor plants. Different species have different looks, some have a coating that feels woolly or wax-like. Apart from that, their color varies from species to species, so you may find white, black, brown, yellow, gray, green and pink aphids, depending on their species.
Aphids’ body has the shape of a pear, along with long antennae and they usually have two cornicles. Grown aphids usually do not have wings, but almost every species has the ability to develop wings if needed, for example, if their population is high, so it can get a bit crowded. In this case, they have the ability to swap to another plant if their food stocks get too low in the previous one.
There, they can start reproducing and start a new colony with plenty of food for them. Aphids onnindoor plants usually travel and feed together in big numbers and they can rarely be found individually.
As for their diet, it usually doesn’t have too many limitations. Most of the species can eat a large number of plants, but there are also those who are mostly known for attacking specific types of plants, like cabbage, melon, apples, potato, and beans.
So, in some cases, by knowing the color of the aphid, you can see what type it is, which plants it tends to attack and what are the best ways to deal with it.
Why Are Aphids Troublemakers?
Aphids on indoor plants can really cause some serious troubles if they are not stopped as soon as possible. They are small, fast and can easily spread from plant to plant in a short period of time. Growing in numbers makes it harder for us to deal with them.
The easiest way for aphids to spread is by flying to another plant. However, not all aphids develop wings, so some have to crawl from plant to plant.
Another way of spreading, which is known mostly for outdoor plants is by using public transportation in the form of ants. That’s right, you’ve read well! Some people observed aphids and noticed that sometimes ants transport them to other plants. Most likely it is for the sake of getting sweet sap from the new plants.
Getting that sweet sap is their main source of food and their main goal. Since they usually attack in large groups, that means bad news for the plant. Because, by sucking out the entire nectar leaves plant unhealthy and vulnerable to other problems, like fungus and mold. This eventually leads to losing leaves and dying if not treated well.
What Is Aphid’s Average Lifecycle?
While being on the outside, aphid’s eggs can easily live on through winter by attaching to some woody growth. When the spring comes, all these eggs hatch into female aphids, who then create nymphs, which, after some time, grow and become full adults.
The time needed for that is around 10-15 days. Male aphids tend to be born in the fall when they start preparing to mate females to create another set of eggs needed for the upcoming winter.
This process is done on the outside. On the inside, there is no harsh winter, so female aphids can create new nymphs without a break. This is why their population can grow very, very fast and that is why they have to be dealt with as soon as possible.
How To Deal With Aphids On Indoor Plants?
Dealing with aphids on indoor plants is not an easy quest. It may require a lot of time and effort to do it successfully, so you have to be patient and persistent in what you do.
You can use several methods to resolve this problem. Of course, first, you want to use non-chemical ways, because they are healthier and more natural.
1. Using water
If the aphid infestation is not so big, you can try using your finger to remove aphids or just use a strong stream of water to wash them off the plant.
Some plants, however, are a bit sensitive and a strong burst of water could damage them. In that case, you could try putting the plant in the water and try moving it upside down and on the sides, in order to detach some of the aphids.
2. Insecticidal soap
You can buy insecticidal soap in stores and on the internet, but you can also make one yourself by using a detergent for cleaning dishes.
There are a lot of options available on the market, but you should try to find those without too many chemicals that could hurt the plant, like some additives.
The way you use insecticidal soap is by mixing it with water, typically one teaspoon per water gallon. You can increase the amount later if needed. Then you just spray the plant, especially the back side of leaves.
3. Neem oil
Neem oil comes from a neem tree, so we can say that it is a completely organic product. Therefore, it is a very good choice.
This cold pressed organic neem oil is my choice. You can use it not just for dealing with insects, but also as a fungicide. This gives another set of benefits and makes it easier for the plant to defend itself.
4. Homemade spray
If you don’t fancy all those products I mentioned above, you might want to try something of home production.
In order to make this spray, you need to combine several items, such as 1 bulb of garlic, 1 tiny onion, and 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper. All of that should be mixed in blender and mixed with a quarter part of water and keep it that way for 1 hour.
After that, filter it through cheesecloth and mix with 1 tablespoon of liquid soap for the dish. Once it is done, you can keep the mixture in a fridge for 7 days.
Also, you can check this article about homemade bug sprays where you will find 5 great recipes for sprays!
Another way of killing aphids is by rubbing them with alcohol. This can take a lot of time, but it is an effective way of doing it.
6. Eliminate damaged part of the plant
Same as with the infected body parts, you can try removing the damaged part of the plant and see if the infestation will continue afterward.
7. Chemical spray
If you have tried all other ways, then you might have to just use the chemical spray. There are a couple of types available, but you should look for ones with pyrethrins, imidacloprid or pyrethroids. Out of all three, the first one has the lowest toxicity.
1. I removed aphids, but damage on my plant remains. What can I do?
Even though aphids are removed, the damage will remain. So unless the plant is self-regenerating, you should probably remove those damaged parts and try to instigate new growth.
2. Do aphids have the ability to jump?
No, they cannot jump. As we have already mentioned, they usually crawl from plant to plant and in certain situations, they develop wings and fly. If you have seen the jumping insect, then it is probably the one called “jumping plant lice”, which look similar to aphids.