Fighting aphids - home remedies, beneficial insects and prevention

Fighting aphids - home remedies, beneficial insects and prevention

the essentials in brief

  • Aphids can be combated well with home remedies such as: washing-up liquid, water-oil mixture, alcohol, milk, nettle or garlic stock
  • Beneficial insects can also be used against aphids such as ladybugs or parasitic wasps
  • Chemistry is neither recommended nor necessary in the fight against aphids
  • Aphids are black or green to reddish brown, white lice are mealybugs

How to fight aphids

Aphids can be effectively controlled with home remedies. If the annoying plant vacuums have already increased significantly, you have to be patient. It is therefore important to act as early as possible. You should always fight pests without chemicals and in a biological-natural way so as not to unnecessarily pollute the environment. Before each treatment, rinse the entire plant in the shower so that as many aphids as possible are eliminated.

also read

  • How to fight aphids without chemicals - an overview of tried and tested home remedies
  • How to Control Aphids on Orchids - Tips for Effective Home Remedies
  • Fighting lice on maples - effective home remedies for aphids


Breathing air drives away aphids

Scientists have found that the exhaled air triggers a special escape behavior in the aphids. So that they are not eaten by herbivorous mammals, the insects drop to the ground. This behavior is not linked to any particular constituents of the air we breathe. Aphids generally respond to the combination of increased temperature and humidity.

Water jet

If the infestation is still in the early stages, you can remove the aphids by showering or showering. Isolate affected plants to prevent the pests from spreading to other indoor plants.

How to proceed:

  1. Protect the substrate with a plastic bag
  2. Place the plant in the shower or bathtub
  3. Set the water jet as hard as possible
  4. Thoroughly hose off the tips of the shoots, the undersides of the leaves and the hiding places
  5. Check the plant for aphids over the next few days

Dish soap

fighting aphids

Mix one liter of water with about ten milliliters of ecological washing-up liquid or curd soap. Spray the soapy water directly onto the aphid colonies using an atomizer. The mixture leaves a film that traps the pests. They can no longer move and the solution blocks the aphids' airways, causing them to die after a short time.

The treatment does not damage the plant. However, you should then rinse the plant thoroughly with clear water so that no residue remains. Dish soap can block the pores on leaves and stems so that the plants can no longer breathe.


A water-oil emulsion in the ratio 7: 3 has proven to be an effective control agent against aphids. The pests are covered by the oil film and can no longer absorb oxygen. They die within a short time and can be rinsed off. You can use the method more often if necessary, so that the newly hatched aphids have no chance of survival. The treatment does not harm the plants.

These substances are suitable:

  • Rapeseed oil
  • Tea tree oil
  • Neem oil


Mix about 100 milliliters of milk with twice the amount of water and spray the entire plant with the mixture. Milk contains lecithin and not only ensures that the pests are driven away. The solution prevents the supply of oxygen, so the aphids die quickly. Repeat the treatment every two to four days.


Aphids react to acid and flee when the environment becomes too acidic. Vinegar does not kill the parasites, but has a preventive effect against aphid infestation. Make sure you use vinegar only very diluted. Too high a concentration of acid can damage the leaves.


A few drops of spirit or alcohol can be added to any solution. The substances do not leave any residues as they dissipate completely. This evaporation creates cold, which the aphids cannot survive. The plants are not damaged.

Garlic and nettle stock

There are a number of herbal fragrances that aphids do not like. These include extracts from nettle and garlic. Both plants are rich in essential oils and have a preventive effect against aphid infestation. Put a clove of garlic in the ground or water the plants regularly with a stinging nettle leaf approach. This nitrogen-containing natural fertilizer strengthens the plant organism at the same time.

Other effective plant parts:

  • Tansy flowers
  • Rhubarb leaves
  • Leaves of Greek oregano
  • Bracken leaves

Black tea, coffee and cola

Luxury foods are ideal for getting the plague under control. A well-drawn approach of black tea or freshly brewed coffee ensures that the pests are killed. The high caffeine content has a toxic effect, so that the insects suffer a heart attack. A cola spray is equally successful. Aphids do not tolerate the sugar they contain.

Combat with chemistry?

Monocultures shape the image of arable land, which is why aphids can spread unhindered and en masse here. In order to contain the infestation, farmers have to resort to chemical agents. These penetrate the plant and distribute with the sap in the organism. If aphids suck up the sap, they ingest the poison and die. The effect of such insecticides lasts for several weeks.

Disadvantages of chemical agents:

  • high environmental and water pollution
  • Beneficial insects are also endangered
  • Toxic residues are consumed and affect health
  • only help against aphids in the short term

Effective beneficial insects

fighting aphids

There are also harmless alternatives for large-scale aphid infestations. Numerous beneficial insects hunt aphids. Some live parasitically and have specialized in the insects. Important beneficial insects are ladybugs, lacewings and hoverflies, gall midges and spider larvae.

Catchy tunes

If a tree or bush is infested with aphids, you can attract earwigs with simple means. Fill a clay pot with wood wool and seal the opening with wire mesh. This dwelling is hung in the affected tree with the opening facing down. Hundreds of earwigs find shelter here. At dusk they swarm out and hunt for aphids.

Parasitic wasps

Parasitic wasps (€ 14.59 at Amazon *) are among the most important enemies of aphids. A female can parasitize up to 500 aphids. It penetrates the living aphid with its laying stinger and lays its eggs there. The larvae grow in the aphid and eat it from the inside. What remains is the aphid's empty shell. Ichneumon wasps are able to track down isolated aphids. This makes them an effective control agent that works even if aphids are scattered.

scientific namespecialized parasitic wasp
Pea louseAcyrthosiphon pisumPraon volucre
Large raspberry louseAmphorophora idaeiPraon volucre
Mallow louseAcyrthosiphon malvaePraon volucre
Green-spotted potato aphidAulacorthum solaniEphedrus cerasicola
Potato outMacrosiphum euphorbiaeAphidius matricariae
Large rose aphidMacrosiphum rosaeAphidius ervi

Recognize aphids

Aphids represent a superfamily within the plant lice. With 650 different species, they are the largest group of plant lice. In addition to snails, these insects are among the most common pests that appear on ornamental and useful plants. The insects are only a few millimeters in size and can be colored differently depending on the species. They live in large colonies or in smaller groups on the host plants, where they predominantly colonize young leaves and still soft shoots.

Wanted poster and types

fighting aphids

Aphids are small but can be seen with the naked eye. Male and female insects do not differ externally from each other. However, mostly females are produced. This means that the genetic makeup does not change over generations. Thus the survival of an aphid population is strongly dependent on environmental factors. Aphids occur naturally in forests and meadows. They live in flower beds and are kept in check by natural predators.

  • Size : 1-7mm
  • Color : green to reddish brown and black
  • Age : 2 to 6 weeks
  • Distribution : worldwide
groupHost plantsscientific
Black bean louseblack aphidsBeans, potatoes, beets, spring herbsAphis fabae
Green peach aphidblack and green aphidsCruciferous vegetables, various vegetables, herbsMyzus persicae
Oleander aphidyellow aphidsOleander. Silk flowers, wax flowersAphis nerii
Apple aphidbrown aphidsApple, pear, quinceEriosoma lanigerum

White aphids?

If you spot white-colored pests on the leaves of indoor plants, it is not aphids. Mostly mealybugs are behind it, which are also known as grease or root lice. These insects secrete a waxy substance under which they protect themselves. In the event of an infestation, the pests can be recognized as small white cotton balls.

Red aphids?

The fruit tree spider mite is hidden behind the bright red colored plant pests. It sometimes causes great damage to currants, pears, apples, gooseberries or plums. The species also colonizes grapevines, from whose freshly sprouting leaves they suck the sap.

What damage do aphids do?

fighting aphids

Aphid infestation can severely weaken the plant. However, the secretions are a much bigger problem, because they attract wasps, honey bees and other animals. Ants often interact with aphids. They protect the colonies from predators and help the aphids to spread further. In return, ants benefit from the sugary honeydew. You can milk the aphids in a targeted manner.

Side effects:

  • through suction activity, crop failures or yield losses occur
  • Aphids are important vectors of viral diseases
  • Honeydew as a breeding ground for black fungi and a source of food

Way of life

Aphids have a proboscis with which they penetrate soft plant tissue and suck out the sugary juice. Since they only need a small proportion of protein to survive, most of them are excreted. These secretions are known as honeydew and cover the host plant as a sticky film.


The fact that aphids are so numerous is related to their generation change. In most species there is seldom a sexual generation with males and females. Aphids reproduce predominantly asexually by means of virgin generation. In these generations only females are produced. There are aphid species in which the sexual generation has completely disappeared.

Winged and wingless generations

When mating occurs, the females lay eggs. With asexual reproduction, the offspring are born alive. The larvae usually go through four nymph stages, from which wingless or winged insects can arise. Whether the animals develop wings depends on the environmental conditions.

This is how winged aphids develop:

  • if the host plant is overpopulated
  • through pheromones
  • in the event of imminent danger from predators
fighting aphids

Affected plants

Aphids are not particularly specialized. They colonize fruit plants such as strawberries as well as pepper plants, lettuce or cucumber plants. The pests do not stop at plants in the garden, greenhouse or terrarium and attack bamboo, roses, sunflowers and ivy. Even trees like linden or beech are not safe from aphids. Plants with high-carbohydrate vegetable juices are particularly popular.

These plants are particularly affected:

  • Fruit trees : apple tree, cherry tree, plum tree
  • Fruit bushes: elderberries, raspberries, currants
  • Vegetables : tomatoes, peppers, cucumber, beans, chilli
  • Herbs : parsley, dill, mint, basil
  • Indoor plants : oleanders, orchids, bonsai
  • Ornamental and balcony plants : geraniums, dahlias, hydrangeas, petunias, lupins, clematis

Where do aphids come from?

Often times, the pesky pests seem to arise out of nowhere. However, due to the aphids' special way of life, they are able to spread through different elements. If you are not careful, you will bring the nuisances into your home unnoticed.

Aphids in the garden

The sucking pests hatch in spring from the eggs, which overwinter on various ornamental and useful plants in the garden. Aphids lay eggs that are very frost-resistant. Some species can overwinter on the host plant as an adult insect.

The first generation in the year usually consists of females who reproduce asexually. Your offspring can reproduce after ten days and enlarge the colony many times over. In this way up to 40 generations can be formed per year. In the fall, males and females are usually produced so that the next offspring can overwinter as an egg.

Aphids on house plants

Although several generations can fly, houseplants are usually not infected by infested plants in the garden. There are often aphid eggs in the potting soil. The next time they are repotted, the newly hatched larvae can migrate to the plant and spread massively there. It is not uncommon for plants from hardware stores or supermarkets to be infested with aphids that are dragged home after they have been bought.


Take a close look at the plant before buying it. The pests often hide in leaf axils or on the undersides of the leaves.

Prevent infestation

When buying potting soil, look for high-quality products. Cheap potting soil is usually contaminated and should be sterilized in the oven before use. Aphids like dry air and warm temperatures, which is why they often attack indoor plants in winter. Especially in winter, make sure there is high humidity so that the pests do not feel comfortable. Over-fertilization weakens the plant and makes it more susceptible to aphid infestation. Too much nitrogen increases the likelihood of infestation. With fruit trees, shoot spraying has proven successful.

  • Put lavender or savory between crops
  • Promote beneficial organisms such as parasitic wasps and ladybugs
  • Potassium fertilization strengthens the cell walls

Fertilize properly

If you fertilize with inappropriate means or in too large amounts, plants will grow too quickly and develop thin and weak shoots. Here, aphids have good opportunities to get the coveted plant sap. If a plant is repeatedly attacked by aphids, this indicates an excessive accumulation of sugar in the cells. The flow of sap is disturbed by an improper diet.

With the right fertilization you strengthen your plants and prevent aphid infestation. Mature compost provides the plants with all the important nutrients. Since compost changes the pH value of the soil, the substrate is less suitable for plants that are sensitive to lime. Fertilize rhododendrons and other sensitive plants with horn shavings. (€ 6.39 at Amazon *) These act as long-term fertilizers and supply the plants with nitrogen.

Ensure optimal site conditions

Healthy plants naturally develop defense mechanisms so that they are not attacked by pests. The location is very important for healthy growth. When creating an ornamental and kitchen garden, make sure you have a suitable selection of plants that are adapted to the respective location.

To determine the acidity of the soil, you can use a quick pH test. If the soil is too calcareous, you can improve it with a fertilizer containing ammonia, iron sulfate or sulfur. With a lime fertilization you increase the pH value of acidic soils.

Tips for different types of habitats:

  • Fruit trees and shrubs create shady areas
  • Bark mulch and sand loosens the soil
  • Earth walls and rubble mounds ensure warm locations

Diversity instead of unity

Aphids are parasites of weakness. They first attack plants that are sick or weakened. Before starting pest control, the biological balance must be established. Otherwise the aphids will quickly spread again after successful control. Choose robust and resistant varieties and do without overbred varieties that can hardly hold their own under suboptimal conditions. Pay attention to mixed crops and plant a bed with alternating types of vegetables so that the soil is not one-sided.

Aphids in the natural garden

Nature keeps itself in balance. When there is an excess of plant pests, the populations of pest-eating beneficial insects also increase. However, this only works if people intervene as little as possible. Monocultures and clearly structured gardens reduce the biodiversity in the garden. Many important creatures do not find an ideal habitat here. Plant pests that are comfortable in warm and dry microclimates can multiply without any problems.

In the near-natural garden there are enough opponents to curb the aphid populations. You can even ensure increased biodiversity on the balcony.

Species-rich planting

Aphids prefer the color yellow. A near-natural planting turns out to be a colorful backdrop that offers numerous niches and habitats for various useful insects. Not only the insects benefit from a species-rich garden. Put various herbs such as mint, dill, coriander or fennel outdoors or in window boxes. (€ 106.25 at Amazon *) Garlic is also a tried and tested culinary herb that drives away pests and promotes beneficial insects. These herbs also enrich your diet.

What beneficial insects prefer:

  • Ladybugs : marigolds, corn poppies, yarrow, cornflowers, silverweed, cranesbills, dandelions
  • Hoverflies : wild carrot, marsh marigold, blackthorn, coltsfoot
  • Lacewings : catnip, purple coneflower, late flowering nectar plants

Insect hotels and deadwood

A place of retreat is of great importance so that the beneficial insects can settle in the garden permanently. Many insects overwinter in protected areas. These can be hollow stems from dead shrubs or small crevices under the bark of dead trees. Offer the beneficial insects piles of dead wood and leave dead perennials for the winter. Insect hotels are an alternative that you can also use on the balcony.


However, if you are plagued by aphids, you should introduce parasitic wasps. In specialist shops there are cards that are equipped with eggs. Ichneumon wasps live parasitically and have specialized in aphids.

frequently asked Questions

Does detergent help against aphids?

Dishwasher is a tried and tested home remedy that is effective against aphids. Squirt a few drops of ecological washing-up liquid into a liter of water and spray the plant using an atomizer. The aphids should be completely wetted. You can repeat the method several times if necessary. Make sure that no residue gets into the potting soil. To be on the safe side, you can put the pot in a plastic bag and tie it up. After spraying, the plant should be rinsed thoroughly.

What to do with aphids on roses

A solution with soap, neem oil or dish soap will also help with aphid infestation on roses. However, you should make sure that the products do not contain any synthetic compounds or fragrances, as roses cannot tolerate these ingredients. The valuable wax layer on the leaves, which protects against excessive evaporation, can dissolve. As a result, the bushes are weakened and more prone to fungal infections. Apply the remedy daily. If the infestation is severe, you can spray your roses twice a day.

Are aphids dangerous to humans?

There is no need to worry because aphids are completely harmless to humans. Although they are considered to be disease carriers, they can only transmit viruses between different host plants. For pets, aphids are just an additional source of protein.

What damage can aphids cause?

The pests suck sap from young leaves and shoots. Usually this does not harm the plant. The damaging effect is limited to the aesthetic level. However, aphid colonies on the plant can have secondary effects. The secretions of the insects provide an ideal breeding ground for fungi and occasionally aphids infect house plants with viral diseases. In agriculture, in years with epidemic-like multiplication of pests with high crop failures must be expected.

Typical viral diseases:

  • Stroke disease on potatoes
  • Barley yellow dwarf virus on wheat and barley

What is the life expectancy of an aphid?

The age of the insects depends on various environmental factors and the food available. They prefer a dry and warm microclimate and vegetable juices rich in carbohydrates. Under optimal conditions, an aphid can survive for up to six weeks. Usually, their life expectancy is around two to four weeks.

Why do aphids multiply so massively?

Aphids reproduce predominantly asexually. Most species produce male and female insects that mate before winter sets in. The eggs are frost-resistant and overwinter until next spring. Females hatch from them and reproduce asexually over the course of the year. In this way, up to 40 generations can arise each year that are born alive. A female can give birth to up to five young animals per day. These are genetically identical to the mother.