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Everything about aphids and 6+ ways to get rid of them

There is something so frustrating about finding signs of pests on plants you've worked so hard to grow. Stunted growth, wilted leaves or a moldy fungus are all signs of aphids, an insect that reproduces alarmingly quickly and thrives on many different types of plants and flowers. Though aphids can be quick to appear, there are plenty of natural and easy remedies to remove them.
Aphids, from the family aphididae, have more than 4,000 different species. Some of these species fixate on particular hosts, such as rose aphids or potato aphids, but they all aim to suck the juice or sap out of a plant. They are soft-bodied and adults are about the size of the head of a pin. Some have wings, but others, known as stem mothers, are wingless and can reproduce without fertilization.
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How to identify an aphid infestation
If you suspect plants are under attack from aphids, there are a few signs to help identify them. First and foremost, you may see a clump of aphids along the stems. Because aphids reproduce so quickly, plants can become overcrowded, which makes the actual insects easier to spot. They often gather in groups on the undersides of leaves.
Because aphids suck the sap out of plants, indoor and outdoor plants will begin to wilt, have yellowing leaves and have visible holes in their leaves and stems. There may also be signs of a sticky substance called honeydew that also attracts ants. Honeydew can turn into a black moldy fungus.
How to get rid of aphids
1. Cold water. Spray plants down with cold water, knocking the aphids off the leaves and stems. Generally, the insects cannot find their way back to the host plant.
2. Ladybugs. The most common method of ridding a garden of aphids is by using aphid predators, the most famous of which are ladybugs. Garden stores and home improvement centers often sell containers of ladybugs specifically for aphid control.
3. Soap. A homemade pesticide is very useful for treating plants, especially indoor plants, for aphids. A few drops of dish soap mixed into a bucket of water will be strong enough to kill the aphids, the larvae and clean off any honeydew. Use a sponge to wipe down plant leaves or put the solution in a spray bottle and spritz the bugs away. Repeat after two or three days to make sure they're all gone.
4. Flour. A dusting of flour on plant leaves is said to constipate aphids.
5. Natural sprays. Garden centers often sell sprays made with garlic or hot pepper oil. These will deter aphids from returning to plants.
6. Companion planting. If the outdoor garden is plagued by aphids, consider planting aphid-repelling plants as a border. Catnip, chives and garlic all deter aphids from making a home nearby. Also try planting flowers that attract the aphids' natural predators such as ladybugs, lacewing moths and wasps. In kitchen gardens, plants such as dill, fennel and coriander attract ladybugs, and in ornamental gardens, geraniums, tansy and yarrow bring them.
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Despite being such a ubiquitous plant pest, there are thankfully many simple ways to rid a garden of aphids and deter them from returning.
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