Think aphids only live in outdoor gardens, getting eaten by ladybugs? Think again. These pests can make their way into your home and take out your plants in a matter of weeks. They have teardrop-shaped bodies and come in a variety of colors. They hang out by petioles, and on the underside of leaves. To feed, they puncture plant cells to feed on their glucose, slowly depleting them of life. We made this close-up for you to get a better idea of what to look for.
Click here to see them IRL. Don't say we didn't warn you.
Understanding how to identify and treat your plants when they are under attack is essential to plant keeping, so let's get you caught up.
Quarantine the plant. Aphids can spread to other plants like wildfire. Isolate the plant in a separate room in order to keep the rest of your collection safe.
Wipe the aphids off. The easiest way to do this is to mix a drop of dish soap with water and wipe the foliage down using a cloth. Rinse the soapy residue off with water. Using a reusable cloth instead of single-use paper towels is best for our planet. ✌️
Spray the plant down. Mix rubbing alcohol with water (1:3 ratio) in a spray bottle to spray down the leaves and stems of the plant. This is strong enough to kill anything you missed, but safe to use on your plant. Avoid direct light when doing this.
Monitor daily. Inspect your plant daily for any signs of survivors. It may take a couple of treatments before they're gone for good, but with vigilance, they will die off. 💪
After removal and treatment, give your plant some extra TLC—it's likely stressed out. Keep it in its preferred light and water it as usual. If it's been 6 weeks since it was last repotted, give it some plant food. It could use a nutrient boost.
After one bout with aphids, you're likely keen to stop an infestation from ever happening again. Here's what you can do:
Inspect every plant. Anytime you get a new plant, it's wise to give it a thorough inspection. Most plant sellers and nurseries are vigilant about pest control, but it's nature and it happens.
Regularly clean your leaves. This is important for many reasons, but plants with dusty leaves struggle to photosynthesize properly, making them weak and easy targets for predators. We like to mix apple cider vinegar and water (1:2 ratio) as a solution to wipe leaves and remove unwanted buildup.
Use pesticides. Neem oil is a naturally-occurring pesticide that you can safely spray your plants with to prevent pest outbreaks. It also has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties.
If you're seeing aphids, keep calm. Once you get a hold of the problem, it's actually quite easy to manage. Remember, you can always text our SMS plant hotline at (646) 430-8699 for help and guidance.