I used to fret about aphids—they can certainly cause a great deal of damage, particularly to young plants. But I’ve learned to live with them. Here are a few of my aphid strategies:
- When I plant out, I check every plant carefully, and squish any aphids—knocking back these early individuals goes a long way to limiting damage.
- If a plant is heavily infested, I turn my hose on jet and blast the aphids off. This technique doesn’t get them all, but it does knock the population back to manageable levels.
- I allow some plants to get covered. In my garden, my early dill always gets nailed by aphids. I accept this. I don’t kill the aphids, either. The aphids on the dill attract ladybugs, lacewings, and parasitic wasps that eat aphids. Lots of aphids on the dill means lots of predators later in the season.
- I plant purple varieties of crops, which are usually less attractive to aphids.
- I accept aphids as a source of extra protein and vitamin B in our diets. We eat aphids. They’re good for us.
- I have patience. By midsummer, the aphids have all but vanished, decimated by the predators I cultivated in springtime.
- I admire aphids’ abilities and beauty—parthenogenic reproduction (that is, the females clone themselves—no need for males), dainty legs and antennae, and a remarkable ability to survive.