WHat's this pest?
Aphids – aka Plant Lice, Blackflies, or Greenflies – are small, pear-shaped pests that suck the sap from your plants. The larvae and juvinile aphids look like translucent pumpkin seeds, but as they mature, aphids can turn black, yellow, white, green, pink, and there are even wooly aphids (which also look a little like mealy bugs). Most mature aphids have wings, but some can be without. The best way to determine if the bug you're seeing is an aphid is to look for two, small, black "tailpipes" at the bottom of their backs. You'll see these pests clustered on the undersides of leaves, in the soil, and primarily at the crux of the stem. An aphid infestation moves quickly, and can cause the plant to grow yellowed, twisted, and/or curled leaves.
Luckily, aphids are easy to get rid of! The best part is, so long as you've caught the pests soon enough, your plants will probably recover quickly.
Treating for Aphids
Treating for aphids is generally pretty simple, and you probably already have all of the required materials at home. Once you've confirmed that you are looking at aphids, quarantine your plant to prevent the pests from spreading to your other plants. We recommend putting it in a different room, or even out on the fire escape.
Here's what you'll need:
Cotton balls or cotton swabs
Bucket of water, or a bathtub/shower
Antibacterial soap (optional)
Neem oil (optional)
Rubbing Alcohol (optional)
Flip the plant upside down and dunk the plant in the bucket of water, or put it under the shower head. You want your water pressure to be strong enough to dislodge the pests, but not so strong that it rips the leaves. Once you've given the plant a rough wash, grab the microfiber cloth or cottom swabs and physically remove as many aphids as you can. From here, we have a few options for long-term treatment.
Antibacterial Soap remedy
Mix 1 teaspoon of antibacterial soap with one gallon of lukewarm water. Spray this mixture on the underside of the leaves once a week until you can't see anymore signs of the aphids.
Neem oil remedy
When it comes to pest treatment - you'll see neem oil recommended quite a lot. Most bottles of neem oil come with their own dilution guide, so be sure to carefully follow the isntructions listed on the bottle. If you are treating plants you eventually plan on eating, do not use neem oil.
A single ladybug can eat up to 5000 aphids in its lifetime! They also love to munch on thrips, mealybugs, and scale! Obviously we do not recommend releasing ladybugs onto a plant inside, so be sure to keep this plant outside while using the ladybugs. In order to encourage the ladybugs to stay on the infested plants, we recommend placing the plant in a small greenhouse or container (with air holes).
Aphids will die if you coat them in rubbing alcohol, so a thorough wipe-down with a soaked cotton ball should do the trick! Carefully pick out the places where you've seen the aphids clustering and wipe down the area thoroughly to kill off any traces of the pests.
Still unsure? Let us See!
We know you love your plants and just want the best for them! If you want to triple check and make sure that you are, in fact, looking at an aphid infestation, or if you just have a general plant question, send us a photo at email@example.com. One of our Plant Experts will help confirm which pest you're looking at and the best methods of treatment for you!