Aphids are my most common houseplant and garden pest. Once these little guys move into one of my plants, the population goes from a few aphids to large numbers in a few days.

I’ve found them on many of my succulent plants, which must be a favorite of theirs.

While they are annoying and take work to control, I prefer them over the other houseplant pests because they are fairly easy to spot and to gain control over (unless its a huge infestation).

Here’s more information about aphids and how I control them in my home.

Table of Contents

What are Aphids?

How to Know if Your Plant has Aphids

Methods of Controlling Aphids

Will Aphids Spread to Nearby Plants?

Resources Used

What are Aphids?

Aphids, like other houseplant pests, suck the sap from the stems and leaves of plants. They are incredibly skilled at hiding and multiplying into large infestations over a short period of time. One female can carry thousands of babies in her lifespan and is able to give birth to babies without mating!

These tiny, almond-shaped bugs can be found in many different colors: white, yellow, orange, red, green, brown, and more.

They can be found anywhere on the plant – foliage, stems, and even flowers. They are not picky!

Wooly Aphids, John Ruter, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org, https://www.forestryimages.org/browse/detail.cfm?imgnum=1581068
Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org, https://www.forestryimages.org/browse/detail.cfm?imgnum=2200051

Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org, https://www.forestryimages.org/browse/detail.cfm?imgnum=2200056

How to Know if Your Plant has Aphids

As mentioned above, aphids can be found almost anywhere on a plant. They amass large numbers quickly, which can make them difficult to control.

Like many houseplant pests, aphids are most interested in new growth. This is a good place to begin a search for potential pests.

As they suck sap from your plant’s leaves and stems, they leave behind a sticky residue called honeydew. This honeydew is also left by several other houseplant pests, but noticing its presence is a good sign of infestation.

Joseph Berger, Bugwood.org, https://www.forestryimages.org/browse/detail.cfm?imgnum=5439521

Check undersides of leaves and nooks and crannies for these little guys. They are great at hiding!

Look for the sticky residue on leaves or stems from honeydew. Honeydew can also attract other pests or black sooty mold growth.

Jim Baker, North Carolina State University, Bugwood.org, https://www.forestryimages.org/browse/detail.cfm?imgnum=1549048

Methods of Controlling Aphids

Spraying your plant with water to blast off aphids

It sounds simple, because it is! I always use this method first when trying to control Aphids both indoors and out.

All you need to do is spray your plant thoroughly to blast off the aphids. Adults come off fairly easily, but more thorough spraying will be needed to remove their eggs – which look very much like tiny aphids hanging off the plant.

The big difference is that you won’t see any legs on the eggs and they will often be in tighter collections than the adults.

Manual removal

Once I’m done blasting off as many aphids as I can, I will now manually remove any remaining bugs I find by squishing them between my fingers. It’s gross, but effective.

Homemade sprays

I generally finish by using one of my homemade, environmentally-friendly pest sprays that has been effective for all houseplant pests above soil, with the exception of scale and fungus gnats.

Neem Oil and Soap Spray

Mix 17 ounces water, .5 tsp neem oil, and .75 tsp mild dish soap in a spray bottle.

It’s best to test the spray on a portion of the plant to make sure it will tolerate the spray well. I am not the best at testing the sprays before applying myself, but I have heard that some plants can be sensitive to neem.

IPlantonix brand of neem oil:  Here is a link to Amazon, where I purchased mine.

Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint Pure-Castille Soap has become my preferred option, which is known for being gentle on plants and the peppermint oil also helps to repel pests. Link to Amazon for Dr. Bronner’s.

I also use Dawn Ultra Gentle Dishwashing Liquid and have had success with it; it’s just a lot more expensive and without the peppermint bonus. Link to Amazon for Seventh Generation Dish Liquid Soap, Free & Clear

If you are interested in the glass spray bottles I use, here is a link to Amazon for those as well.

Rubbing Alcohol and Soap Spray

To make this one, mix 4 ounces rubbing alcohol, 1.5 tsp mild dish soap, and 16 ounces water in a spray bottle.

This spray can use the same mild dish soap as the neem oil spray, but replaces neem with rubbing alcohol. It might be an easier solution to create because many people have rubbing alcohol already on hand and is pretty effective at pest control.

I find this particular spray most effective when I coat the leaves and wipe them off with a gentle cloth. The neem oil spray I do not wipe off the leaves, I just spray the plant thoroughly.

Beneficial Insects

Beneficial insects and predators are a great way to control pests because they do the work without you needing to do anything besides introduce them!

This option may not be super appealing to someone who hates bugs, but as long as you are okay with a few extra bugs (besides the pests you already have), I highly recommend it!

Both green lacewings and ladybugs eat all of the most common houseplant pests (spider mites, aphids, mealybugs, scale, thrips, and whiteflies) besides fungus gnats.

It is really rewarding to see the ladybugs, for example, on your plant doing work and then moving to another plant to continue hunting!

You can order beneficial bugs online from many vendors for overnight shipping to your home!

Will aphids spread to nearby plants?

Yep!! Unfortunately, aphids are quite good at spreading from plant to plant, especially if the foliage is touching. In fact, when too many aphids have infested one plant, some of the young will develop wings to fly to a new location. Yikes!

The good news is that aphids are not one of the more difficult pests to control when caught in smaller numbers. A routine checkup of your plants is a great way to prevent any large outbreaks from happening.

Note: The Amazon links in this post are affiliate links, which means that if you purchase using this link I might get a small percentage of the purchase. It is no additional cost to you to do this. I only link to products that I use and love.

Resources Used

For this particular article, I used only my own experience and knowledge with these pests – I have dealt with them a lot! I think it is the most common pest that I find on my plants.

Click to read last week’s article: For People Who Are Obsessed With Hoyas

A Natural Curiosity
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