There are more than 500 species of aphid in the UK and the insects vary in size and colour. Often aphids in the UK range from 1mm to 7mm long and are green, black, yellow, brown or orange in colour. To the frustration of gardening fans, aphids can make their homes on most types of plants, including houseplants, fruit and vegetables.
Why are aphids bad for plants?
Also known as greenfly, blackfly and plant lice, aphids can cause plants to grow poorly.
If aphids make their home on a plant in large numbers, it is common for plants affected to be weak with curled or damaged leaves.
Aphids also excrete a sticky substance known as honeydew, and on this substance, sooty moulds can grow over plants.
Aphids can also transfer viruses and diseases between plants and infected plants have to be destroyed.
However, if aphids are present on indoor plants or in places like outdoor vegetable patches, steps may need to be taken to stop aphids from destroying plants.
For indoor plants affected by aphids, Gardeners’ World explains aphids can usually be washed off plants with a jet of water from a hose.
Make sure to wash under the plant’s leaves, in case there are any aphids clinging on in hard to spot areas.
Hand-squashing small infestations is also an option for dealing with an aphid infestation.
Alternatively, there are a number of environmentally-friendly pesticide options which can help control aphid numbers.
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Thompson Morgan explains on their website: “You can buy insecticidal soaps but many people make up their own using a teaspoon of washing up liquid diluted in three litres of water.
“The aphids are unable to breath under a coating of soap and subsequently suffocate.
“If you intend to try this, then be sure to spray on a dull day as spraying in full sun is likely to scorch the foliage.”
Other organic sprays to deal with aphids may include plant extracts or plant oils.