Garden Tips: Natural ways to eliminate aphids

Aphids attack a garden leaf in Fairbanks, Alaska
Aphids attack a garden leaf in Fairbanks, Alaska(Sarah Hollister)
Published: Jul. 31, 2020 at 7:10 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) -Tiny, usually green or brown aphids can destroy entire plants in your garden.

UAF Associate Professor of Extension, Heidi Rader, says the best way to avoid an aphid plant invasion is prevention.

“Things you can do to prevent pests is plant a diversity of crops in your garden,” Rader said, “[and] don’t over fertilize or over water.”

Rader says you can also keep a journal of what the aphids attack most and either not plant those again next year, or add plants to your garden that attract beneficial insects.

But what if you already have an active aphid infestation?

“One thing you can do is spray them with a strong jet of water, and if you see them when there is just a few you can crush them.” Rader said.

“The other thing with aphids [is] they are going to multiply super quickly. You can actually have an aphid, where inside they are already developing the next generation and the next one after that,” Rader added.

Another natural trick to eliminate the tiny green monsters is attracting or purchasing insects that eat aphids -- like Green Lacewings, wasps and ladybugs.

Rader said if you do purchase lady bugs, there are several things you need to know.

“One of the things that can happen is if you buy adult ladybugs and you release them on a sunny day, which we haven’t had very many of this year, and they don’t have water and they don’t have food, they tend to just fly away,” she said.

Lady bugs released into a garden near Fairbanks, Alaska
Lady bugs released into a garden near Fairbanks, Alaska(Sarah Hollister)

Rader recommends using larva if you can find them.

”Those eat a lot of aphids and they are not just going to fly away. If you can release them in an enclosed environment, like a greenhouse, make sure they have water, make sure it’s not too hot and make sure there is food.” She explained.

You can also use products like insecticidal soap or a neem oil spray but Rader cautions against using anything too powerful.

“Try to think about supporting a healthy ecosystem in your garden. You could use an insecticide, but think about what insects might be killed with that insecticide.” Rader said.

The UAF Cooperative Extension Service has an integrated pest management program where community members, or “citizen scientists”, are encouraged to submit questions and photos regarding insects, plants or diseases in their area.

More information about that can be found at

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