Some garden pests seem to only exist to be a nuisance. One pest that gardeners, landscapers, and plant lovers alike all seem to despise are aphids: tiny, soft-bodied insects that pierce through leaf layers to extract the sap.
These pesky bugs can wither, deform, or even kill the plants they attack due to the pests’ rapid reproduction, by introducing plant viruses, or by their secretion of “honeydew,” a substance that can cause mold to grow on the plant.
An aphid infestation is not always a death sentence for a plant (fortunately!), and discovering these pests early can save time, frustration, and the health of younger plants. Since aphids usually congregate and feed on the underside of leaves, sprays don’t always do the job when trying to get rid of aphids. Plus, aphids are great at concealing themselves inside curled leaves, further sheltering them from gardening sprays.
A homemade aphid trap can be an effective way to catch aphids before they reproduce. Infestations generally result from winged aphids that fly to a selected host plant where they then deposit immature aphids or nymphs that are left behind to feed on plant sap. The nymphs take a maximum of ten days to mature, after which they are ready to reproduce. Since female aphids can produce 40 to 60 offspring, an aphid colony can multiply at a rapid rate.
With just a few household items, you can create a homemade trap to help thwart infestations.
BUILDING AN APHID TRAP
This trap works by catching the winged aphids that are attempting to lay eggs on your plants.
Begin by figuring out where you want to hang the aphid trap. It can be as simple as hanging the trap from a tree branch, but you can also use a garden stake, broomstick, or small shepherd’s hook from your local home improvement store. Traps can be placed around the edges of garden beds, and depending on the size of the beds, you can place multiple traps around a single area for better coverage.
Next you’ll need string or twine, a paper plate, and petroleum jelly. Together, these will act as the trap. If you have leftover paper plates from a birthday party laying around, this is a great time to use them up since garden pests are attracted to bright colors (blue and yellow work best). You can also use plastic plates or cups, or even cardboard squares or sheets of colored paper.
After punching a hole near the edge of your paper plate (to thread the string/twine through later), smear a thin layer of the petroleum jelly on one side of the plate, covering the plate all the way to the edges.
When you’re done, use the sting/twine to tie the plate to a tree limb or other hanging device.
Check your aphid traps often to clear off trapped insects and reapply the petroleum jelly as needed. You may need to make a new trap after a rainstorm if your paper product gets too wet to hang properly.
ADDITIONAL APHID PREVENTION MEASURES
If you already have aphids on your plants, you may want to try a barrier trap for ants as well. Why? Ants like to feast on aphid “honeydew” secretions and will try to protect them from aphids’ natural predators (predators one would want to encourage when doing battle with aphids). As the ants protect the aphids, the aphid infestation worsens (not to mention that you now have ants, too!).
You can make a barrier trap by wrapping plastic wrap around the base of infested plants and coating the wrap with petroleum jelly. It’s a quick and easy method that bar ants from getting to the aphids.
If you need help with other pests invading your yard, give us a call. We’ll be glad to craft a custom pest control plan that works for you and your plants!