How to get rid of greenfly on plants – 5 key tips to kill aphids

Aphids: RHS gardening expert gives tips for dealing with pests

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An outbreak of greenflies – also known as aphids – can be destructive to several plants in your garden, eating away at the leaves and sapping plants of their strength. Not only this but the dozens of green coloured insects look unsightly and can cause your plants to wilt.

There’s no one plant which attracts aphids, as the pesky flies like the sap which plants exude.

You may see greenflies associated with roses, however, any plant can fall prey to a greenfly infestation.

And despite the name, you won’t always find greenfly a green colour – as there are a number of species all under the same umbrella.

They can be brown, pink or green and are very small, just one to three millimetres long.

Read More: How to get rid of fruit flies – 3 top tips

Greenflies have six legs and sometimes can be found with wings, however, not all species can fly.

While small numbers of greenflies won’t cause your plant too much damage, in larger doses the invasive insects can suck away so much sap the leaves become wrinkled and misshapen.

They can also cause the fruit or flowers on plants to become damaged and cause conifers to shed their needles.

So what exactly can you do to tackle an aphid or greenfly infestation?

There are several methods you can use to tackle an infestation of greenflies, depending on how you want to tackle them.

1. Encourage predators

Natural predators of greenflies include hoverflies, lacewings and ladybirds.

You can actually buy ladybirds and release these into your garden to tackle the problem or add plants which attract them and the other predators. says: “Plants which these beneficial insects love include catnip, clover, dill, mint, oregano and yarrow.”

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2. Use your hands

If you have the time – and the stomach – for it, you can use your finger and thumb to rub the aphids off your plants.

You can use gloves if the thought of your bare skin touching them is too much.

3. Blast them with water

Concentrating a hose onto the greenflies every couple of days will blast them away.

Try and spray all angles of the plant – including the underside of the leaves where aphids love to hide.

4. Try some natural remedies

Mixing certain ingredients with water can be a handy removal system.

– One is to use washing-up liquid and water, spritz onto the problem area. This will kill the greenflies on contact.

– Use three to four drops of essential oil such as clove, peppermint, rosemary and thyme, in a hand spray then top up with water.

This will not only kill the greenflies but their eggs as well.

– Mix a pinch of cayenne pepper into a litre of water, and add a tablespoon of washing up liquid. Spray onto the insects and this will kill them.

– Dust the problem area with cornflour. explains this can clog up the insect’s internal organs.

5. Buy a specialist chemical treatment

Sprays which include ingredients like pyrethrum, plant or fish oils are ideal for tackling aphids without damaging your plants.

Again, make sure to spray all sides of the affected area, paying attention to under the leaves.

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