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How to Use Household Dish Soap to Control Aphids

reed aphids image by Adrian Hillman from Fotolia.com

Aphids are almost everywhere. Avid and even amateur gardeners are likely to encounter these tiny pests at some point. There are many species of aphid. Most are green, but others are black, yellow or white. Some have wings and can fly short distances and some are quite slow-moving. Whatever the variety, they all prey on plants. Aphids are almost never a lethal problem, but they attract other pests and fungal infection. Luckily, these soft-bodied pests are easy to control with a bit of household dish soap.

Mix a solution of 2 tbsp. of household dish soap into 1 gallon of water and stir well, but don't agitate it enough to make lots of bubbles.

Transfer some of the solution to a small hand-held sprayer.

Spray it on all of the affected plant tissue, paying extra attention to the underside of leaves where aphids like to congregate. Also spray the soil at the base of the plant.

Wipe off any visible aphids with your fingers.

Re-spray the plant once weekly as needed until the infestation has been controlled. Repeated applications of soap spray may burn your plant's tender shoots, so do not use it more than three times in a row.

Household Dish Soap To Control Aphids

Few things are as frustrating for a gardener as planting, watering, feeding, pruning and nurturing beloved plants only to watch them shrivel up and turn sickly. Their bodies are shaped like teardrops and may appear furry or waxy. Aphids have a pair of tubes attached to their behinds, called cornicles, but you probably won't see these without a magnifying glass. The best dish soap to use in controlling aphids is pure Castile soap. Make sure you use pure soap and not detergent, because pure soaps are made with vegetable oils or animal fat, and these are necessary to smother the aphids. Detergents will not contain these fats or oils and therefore will not be as effective against aphids, while also possibly posing a threat to your plants. Wait 24 hours after applying the soap solution to the test spot before treating the entire plant. Make sure your plants are well-watered and not stressed. Pay special attention to the undersides of the leaves, because aphids love to hide there.

Tip

Avoid using synthetic fertilizer on your plants. These often contain high amounts of nitrogen that stimulates the overproduction of new shoots--aphids' favorite food.

If this is your first time using dish soap spray on this variety of plant, test it out by spraying a few leaves. Wait one or two days to see if the soap spray damages the plant's tissue. If it does, explore other methods for aphid control like pruning affected tissue or spraying the plant daily with the hose.

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