Aphids: RHS gardening expert gives tips for dealing with pests
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Aphids can spell disaster for your veggie patch. The seemingly harmless little insects will suck sap from your precious plants. They can cause a multitude of problems in your garden but you can keep them at bay with a few simple hacks.
Aphids sometimes known as greenfly or blackfly can affect almost any plant.
There are a huge number of aphid species that can blight gardens in Britain.
There are more than 500 different species in the UK alone.
While some only feed on one or two different plant varieties, others feast on a huge host of plants.
Aphids also range in size and colour so they can be difficult to identify.
They can be anywhere between one to seven millimetres in length and their colourings vary too.
They aren’t limited to green or black but can be yellow, white, mottled or even pink.
So how can you tell if your garden is being attacked by aphids?
They may vary in appearance but it is usually obvious when aphids attack.
They leave plants with curled or distorted leaves and can cause stunted growth as they suck the moisture from your plants.
Aphids can normally be spotted as they cluster in colonies on the flower buds, on the tips of shoots and underneath young leaves.
Aphids may leave behind a honeydew where black sooty mould can appear.
If ants start to climb on your plants this is a clear sign that aphids may be present as ants are drawn to their honeydew.
Try not to get rid of ants as they are unlikely to cause any direct damage to your plants.
They may even help with your aphid outbreak as they like to feed on them.
How can I get rid of aphids?
Aphids can be tricky to get rid of as pesticides may cause greater damage to your plants than the aphids.
If aphids attack your indoor plants you can simply wash them off with a strong jet of water from a hosepipe.
Be sure to wash under the plants leaves as these pests tend to cling on in hard to reach places.
Killing the aphids by hand is another way to treat small outbreaks.
You can get rid of the bugs by squashing them with your thumb and forefinger, taking care not to damage the plant as you do so.
If your aphid outbreak is a bit more severe one popular method is to use a weak solution of washing up liquid and water.
This will kill aphids when sprayed directly on the plant but it should be noted using washing up liquid in this way can cause harm to other natural predators which are good for your garden’s health.
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