Tiny Green Bugs on Your Plants: Must Be Aphids

Posted on Mar 5 2012 - 1:55am by Mike Lieberman

Noticing tiny green bugs on your plants…

..But not sure what they are?

Those annoying little bastids are aphids.

There a billion different varieties of them, but what’s that matter to you?

You just need to know what the are.

In the rest of this post, I’ll share some characteristics, pictures and ways to get rid of them.

Here we go…

Those annoying little green bastids in your garden are aphids. — Tweet This

Characteristics of Aphids

  • The larger ones are 10mm. That aint’ very large.
  • You’ll find them on the underside of leafy greens.
  • They hang out in clusters.
  • Besides green, they can be black, brown or pink.
  • Aphids are soft bodied.

Pictures of Aphids to Help Identify

How to Get Rid of Aphids

Since aphids are soft-bodied you can squish them, but that isn’t a great use of time. Here are three other options for you.

Keep your container garden ant free. Fern from Life on the Balcony wrote a post on how this is a preventative method because ants help to shuttle aphids around. She goes into further depth on this post on her site.

Make a homemade spray. Boil up some water with onions, garlic and cayenne pepper. Let it steep for a bit, then spray down the aphids and undersides of leaves.

Buy an organic pesticide. One solution for an organic pesticide is from Safer Brand (one of my sponsors). Their EndAll organic insect killer will help to solve most of your insect problems and is OMRI listed.

Before you say how it’s going to kill the beneficials as well, I asked them the same question and here was their response.

EndALL is also safe to use around beneficials as if you follow the usage site instructions, you will not harm beneficial insects. Pure neem oil has a history of harming bees if sprayed directly but if you treat in morning and late evening, bees do not feed during those times and will not be harmed. We use azadiractin in our EndALL product which is an extract of the neem seed and is much more gentle then straight neem…but with the same efficacy

[vimeo clip_id=”37922700″ title=”0″ byline=”0″ portrait=”0″ width=”525″ height=”393″]

Your Turn

Now that you can identify those little green bugs on your plant, in the comments below let me know which of your veggies aphids have attacked and how you are going to get rid of them from now on.

Main photo courtesy of Newtonia on Flickr.

68 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Streetwise March 5, 2012 at 8:34 am -

    THANK YOU!  Those little suckers KILL my garden every year!

  2. Mike Lieberman March 5, 2012 at 8:44 am -

    It’s time for some revenge 😉

  3. Craftylittlemonkey March 5, 2012 at 8:44 am -

    Ladybugs ;).

  4. Lisa March 5, 2012 at 11:06 am -

    what is the best way to get rid of snails and slugs?

  5. Mike Lieberman March 5, 2012 at 1:37 pm -

    Yes if you have  large space. If you are confined to a smaller space, not so wise to buy them.

  6. Mike Lieberman March 5, 2012 at 1:38 pm -

    I’ve heard that a little container of beer will sucker them in and drown them. Can also put some pennies around the area. Those both work well for smaller spaces.

  7. Kayce5547 March 11, 2012 at 11:10 am -

    I was wondering if I sprayed the home made or even the organic pesticide  before I did notice them would it help from getting them in the first place.and how do you keep ants away from your  garden pots???? thanks you

  8. haruko March 11, 2012 at 12:03 pm -

    I found ants like to “farm” aphid on Sunflower and broad been plants. So I have decoy sunflower in the fresh greens. Ants actually remove aphid from salad greens to sunflower. 

  9. Loki March 11, 2012 at 12:27 pm -

    diatomaceous earth (crushed tiny shells) works because snails and slugs don’t like to cross over its sharp edges.  

  10. seedwhisperer March 11, 2012 at 1:20 pm -

    I’m preparing for the second annual lacewing release.. All hail the might lacewing!

  11. Mike Lieberman March 11, 2012 at 9:31 pm -

    Spraying before hand might work as a preventative measure, but keeping a good eco-system would be your best option.

    If you have a smaller garden, cinnamon or coffee grounds help to keep ants away.

  12. Mike Lieberman March 11, 2012 at 9:31 pm -

    Interesting. I like that.

  13. Mike Lieberman March 11, 2012 at 9:32 pm -

    Sounds like a ceremony.

  14. ScottfromtheBK March 12, 2012 at 7:31 am -

    Good post Mike!  Thanks for the info!
    I’ve had two bad pest outbreaks in my indoor apartment garden – aphids and scale (my personal arch enemy).  The aphids were introduced when I got young plants from a local store that were carrying eggs on the undersides of the leaves.  I’m not sure where the scale came from, but I’m assuming they piggybacked in the same way.
    I tried using a homemade spray with the same ingredients that you listed, but I had limited success with this route.  I broke down and got the Safer Insect Soap – best move I could have made.  I had to reapply the spray a couple of times, but it really did the trick – no more pests (even scale, which, in my opinion, is far worse than aphids).  Glad to hear Safer is a sponsor.
    The main two things I’ve learned as a result of my pest failures are 1. if you don’t grow your own plants from seed, check your store-bought plants for pests prior to introducing them to your garden and 2. isolate your infected plants if you can – getting rid of pests on 1 plant is far better than trying to get rid of them on ALL your plants…

  15. Mike Lieberman March 12, 2012 at 8:38 am -

    Good tips bro.

  16. Thomas Orr March 12, 2012 at 9:12 am -

    have just been squishing before i read this might try the spray. thanks.

  17. Liddy March 12, 2012 at 11:37 am -

    Something that always works for me is spraying a weak-ish solution of dish-washing detergent, diluted in water. I’ve seen it mentioned on other sites too. Thanks for all your tips, really enjoy getting your updates!

  18. Mike Lieberman March 12, 2012 at 2:03 pm -

    That’s some dedication with a lot of squishing.

  19. Jerrilynneatkins March 13, 2012 at 12:36 pm -

    There is a product called “Sluggo” that supposedly is organic, and safe around dogs, cats and wildlife.  I’ve sprinkled some pellets around my garden and noticed an improvement.

  20. Mike Lieberman March 13, 2012 at 3:16 pm -

    Ohhh gotta check that out.

  21. Resistancediaryof1 March 14, 2012 at 9:55 pm -

    To find aphids, I take a flashlight and light groups of leaves up from behind. Dark spots= turn leaf over and squish! This saves much-time looking for the bastards. I just spend about 10 minutes a day doing this. It doesn’t get them all, but if you get them all, you are Monsanto.

    To find leafhoppers, I go out at night with my flashlight and this time I’m looking for females laying eggs. They will hang about on the upper part of stems. To confirm leafhopper identity, gently disturb the plant and she will immediately be on the opposite side of the leaf. 2 white spots will be visible- they use this for their eggs. Squish.

    LOVE your posts!

  22. Mike Lieberman March 15, 2012 at 12:37 am -

    Word. I likes that flashlight idea.

  23. Mike Lieberman March 15, 2012 at 12:37 am -

    Good call on that.

  24. Stacey March 30, 2012 at 9:32 am -

    Onions, garlic and cayenne pepper – Well everyone should have that on hand! I’ll have to give it a try sometime when I need it (*fingers crossed it will be awhile*). 

  25. Mike Lieberman March 30, 2012 at 9:34 am -

    Fingers crossed!

  26. Lamesia Dodson April 16, 2012 at 8:46 am -

    I have a small vegetable garden where I planted kale, collards, cabbage, broccoli, onions, squash, and tomatoes. In 1 week the aphids had covered the majority of my kale, collards, broccoli, and cabbage.  I used a product called Pyrethrin (not sure about spelling) and sprayed top and bottom of leaves yesterday.  Today it looks as if they’ve died but when will they fall off the leaves.  I’m afraid the infestation was so bad I may have lost my plants!!

  27. Mike Lieberman April 16, 2012 at 2:13 pm -

    You’ll have to wait and see 😉

  28. Adina April 28, 2012 at 8:02 pm -

    I have a small container garden.  Last year my chive plant was attacked by green aphids.  Within a coupe of days, they had spread to all my plants.  Soapy dilutions did not work so I had to use some very heavy does of pesticides (which I don’t like).  Today I noticed a few green aphids have reappeared on the same chive plant.  Maybe the soil is infested with eggs?  I now have it sitting in the bathtub away from my other plants and have sprayed it with another soapy dilution.  Hopefully that works, but I am thinking that maybe I should scrap growing chives.  How frustrating! 

  29. Mike Lieberman April 30, 2012 at 5:42 am -

    I can see how it’s frustrating, but also maybe it’s good if they are just staying on those chives and not attacking anything else?!!

  30. Lcmarti13 May 18, 2012 at 6:14 pm -

    I have those green little bugs on my two clematis. I”m goin to try the onion, garlic +cayenne solution and see what happens.  What does these aphids do to plants?

  31. Mike Lieberman May 20, 2012 at 1:00 pm -

    Suck the juice out of them and kill em.

  32. Karen G May 26, 2012 at 9:10 am -

    I spoke to a farmer at my farmer’s market this morning about aphids and she recommended keeping Butterfly Weed and dill around as those attract beneficial insects that eat aphids. Ladybugs and butterflies are aphid eaters, apparently. 

  33. Mike Lieberman May 27, 2012 at 9:49 am -

    Good tip!

  34. Mary Pat Kelly Curran June 6, 2012 at 3:29 pm -

    I have large aphids and I have tripped them into a container of soapy water and drowned them. Did the same with the tiny green fuzzy caterpillars that are munching on my nasturtium plants.

  35. Mike Lieberman June 6, 2012 at 8:43 pm -

    Get em!

  36. Anke driesens June 15, 2012 at 2:36 pm -

    I would like to try the onion, garlic and cayenne pepper mixture but I unsure about quantities, how much ingredients per liter of water should I use? And, once the mixture is ready, how often can I use it? Once a day, a week? or does none of this matter a lot?

  37. Mike Lieberman June 17, 2012 at 12:51 am -

    Experiment and see what works best.

  38. blueskychica July 16, 2012 at 9:49 pm -

    I wanted to share one method I tried after losing all my cabbage & broccoli plants to pests last year (I was using organic methods, but a water dilluted Bronners mixture sprayed on the leaves, which turned out to be too weak). With this year’s garden, when the aphids came on… I  first released the ladybugs. When the ladybugs got full, they flew off, and there were still plenty of aphids. The gal at the garden store told me that they’re a-sexual and reproduce every so many seconds. I tried a pure soap mixture of Bronners Unscented, and it killed the aphid clusters. When the remaining aphids moved, I Bronnered  them again (daily for a few days), and then the aphids were gone. I thought this was wesome, because the watered down version wasn’t effective. Unfortunately…. my brussel sprouts shriveled up (I’m now guessing that the Bronners made the leaves crispy, even with waterings). I don’t think the plants will fully recover. 🙁 So now I’m looking for a new method, and curious about your pepper mixture. Has the pepper mixture been effective with the aphids and also left the plants unharmed?

  39. tu2 December 23, 2012 at 2:20 pm -

    These aphids are on my kale, napa cabbage and mustard cabbage. Mahalo for the information. The aphids have seen their last day, they’re getting sprayed with an organic spray. Mahalo!

  40. DeeD April 18, 2013 at 9:03 am -

    I have a Barbados cherry tree and those tiny annoying things keep eating the new stems so I have been using Organicide and it works but you have to do it in a regular basis.

  41. Arachne April 21, 2013 at 8:34 pm -

    we use the clean, dried egg shells from our hens. I crush them and add them around the base of my plants and apparently the slugs/snails tear up their “foot” (slimy thing) trying to get across the jagged pieces of shell. Beer works too, but if you have a good sized garden, you are gonna go thru alot of beer (and its gross to clean em out; YUCK!!)

  42. No'ena Linda Franz April 26, 2013 at 6:30 pm -

    Has anyone tried coke or pepsi as an insecticide? I’ve heard that it doesn’t harm the plants, but the bugs die.

  43. Yvonne Jensen May 8, 2013 at 9:28 pm -

    How come you didn’t mention ladybugs? They are only $6 on Amazon. I have a small patio I grow my plants on and 300 at a time seems to work great. My question to you is once the aphids start eating the plants, does the plant or veggies become toxic? Also what do you know about hydroponic pests? Are those aphids too? This is my first year growing indoor salad and I noticed a VERY small white bug that almost looked like lint. I ended up throwing away all of my lettuce plants because I didn’t want those bugs in my house. I want to grow again but I don’t want those bugs.

  44. Rosebud10123 May 19, 2013 at 7:43 am -

    Would if they are in a large tree of yours? Then what do you do? Also they are very tiny right now and blend with the leaves, I noticed them when I climbed my tree to watch the sunrise and a few climbed on me, when I glanced at the leaf there were a few on them. Oh and will they harm me at all?
    Get me back at my YouTube Rosebud10123
    Or my email which I don’t really check Rosebud10123@hotmail.com(I don’t check it because I have another email and its my main. I didn’t give it because its got my real name. My parents dog want my real name out.)

  45. Sarah8702 May 22, 2013 at 12:30 pm -

    I’ve heard spraying plants with diluted peppermint oil or diluted mint-flavored mouthwash works too. It seems to make sense because I’ve never had pests on my mint plants. Anyone have any luck with this idea?

  46. henry May 23, 2013 at 2:00 pm -

    i have two pots of pepper plants (3 jalapenos, 3 bananas). i am a college student living in an apartment, and i have to carry them down to my truck every day to get the 12-4 sun. today i noticed the little aphids and (b/c i had some time and not many plants) i squished all the ones i could find. there is a ladybug living in my plants, they eat aphids right?

  47. James June 19, 2013 at 11:17 am -

    I have a lot of white patches on my purple kale and a lot of beetles with black and orange designs on their back. A friend of mine said they are eating bugs, but I am wondering if they are sucking the juice out of the kale. I also noticed small grey eggs in lines on the back, but I haven’t seen any aphids. Any suggestions on what this might be?

  48. mandoliv June 29, 2013 at 8:34 am -

    I picked some lovely leaf lettuce from our garden, rinsed it and served. Suddenly everyone was like ‘there is a green bug walking across my sandwich!” So I soaked the rest, and rinsed. A bunch came out. But not all. So now I am going through leaf my leaf and running under stream of water. Not my ideal solution, but I don’t want my first harvest to go to waste. I will spray the stumps with something befor the new leaves grow, maybe that will help.

  49. Kelly L July 4, 2013 at 7:32 pm -

    @James: Are they japanese beetles? They eat lots of things. :-/

  50. Permie July 14, 2013 at 10:33 am -

    If you plant sunflower you will likely draw both aphids (it is a special treat to them) and lady bugs ( who like flat flowers to mate and a good source of aphid food) The lady bugs will mate and create lady bug larvae who can not fly away and eat more aphids than the adults. Simply by planting sunflowers you should end up with a lady bug larvae and adult army to manage the aphids in your garden.

  51. KR January 20, 2014 at 8:22 am -

    I really found the “ant free” part is VERY TRUE!!! I have a potted flower garden. Last few weeks there were ton of ants crawling around one of my flower pots. Low and behold, yesterday the entire plant was completely infested with little green bugs and white “crusties” (maybe eggs?). All my other plants are fine, but they didn’t have the ants crawling around them. I killed off the plant entirely, but there were some seedlings in the same pot that I left in. I wanted to know if the soil is contaminated? Do they live in the soil or on the plant only? I put the pot around 10ft from my other plants but is that still too close. Should I just throw the whole thing out? I usually use a solution of Bronner’s Peppermint Soap and water, and spray the plants daily. It dries the bugs out from the outside-in. Will start spraying my other plants as a preventative measure. Hope they dont spread!!! ANY HELP WOULD BE GREAT THANK YOU!

  52. bloodredrosez May 23, 2014 at 1:54 pm -

    I’ve been spraying diluted mint-flavored mouthwash for ages on all sorts of plants and it works well. I used to use very diluted dish soap but it sometimes leaves a soapy aftertaste on some plants that you eat raw, so I Googled and switched to mouthwash. The antiseptic properties combined with the mint seem to keep off the pests and it’s safe, plus usually everyone has some mouthwash lying around!

  53. KatG May 28, 2014 at 1:21 pm -

    Both my plants that I have found these on were indoor and no where near ants… The first was a callalily plant and the second is an indoor dill plant. Not sure which method I plan to use yet since I plan on ingesting the dill and don’t want any kind of pesticides….

  54. Grace G June 7, 2014 at 6:14 pm -

    Aphids have attacked TWO of my small apple trees. This caused one to die!

  55. Andrew October 5, 2014 at 1:02 pm -

    I have an assortment of potted plants and herbs in my apartment and the only one infested with aphids is my mint plant. Funny enough, I planted it next to a different breed of mint and the aphids haven’t tried jumping over to it. No ants to blame? Do they just like my one kind of mint? Or are they just lazy aphids?

  56. Averheim June 10, 2015 at 7:43 am -

    NOTE! If you do the chili cocktail, DON’T BREATHE IN THE FUMES! Its literary like pepper spray! I took 2 Habaneros, 2 Eagle eye chili’s, 2 garlic, and some black pepper and boiled it for 5 min. I recommend that you leave the lid on and start the fan at maximum speed! When spraying your plants, hold your breath! I was coughing for an hour! – But hey, it worked, the plant is aphid free and the plant wasn’t harmed. PS; save the seeds from the chili, plant them and get a nice bonus from having Aphids 🙂

  57. Howell June 18, 2015 at 2:49 am -

    A swarm has appeared on my coriander and some have managed to infiltrate my propagator and are attacking my mint. Luckily they haven’t got across the windowsill to my peppers and basil yet, think I’m going to try out organic pesticide route. Will try to remember to let you know how it goes.

  58. jurassicfaggot July 4, 2015 at 9:42 pm -

    okay so my moss rose plants were covered in these things so i rinsed them off in cold water and scrubbed them down to try and get rid of them, i took 409 and sprayed the crap out of my windowsil and my table to kill all the ones that fell off. i have the plants outside right now, is there anything else i should do?

  59. Jennifer July 13, 2015 at 1:09 pm -

    This makes so much sense! I have a container garden on my balcony and never had an issue with aphids before, but i recently found them on a dill plant – a week after bringing home a sunflower from my moms garden.

  60. kendra November 15, 2015 at 6:41 pm -

    I am interested in what yo did here as well as this is the case with mine

  61. Alley Christopher July 12, 2016 at 12:12 pm -

    4 cups water
    1 cup fresh basil (or 2 TBS dried basil)
    1 tsp dish soap

    Boil water, add basil.
    Remove from heat and cover to allow the basil to steep.
    Once cool, add dish soap.
    Spray on infected plant.

  62. Mona July 14, 2016 at 12:42 pm -

    Purchase ladybugs, my daughter even got me winter home for them to hibernate during cold months. They are inexpensive and Ladybugs are voracious eaters of aphids, mealy bugs, ect. The ants eat the sugar they get from the aphids, that’s why no aphids no ants.

  63. Stebor October 2, 2016 at 8:25 pm -

    I washed them off the broad beans with a hose-water. I do that with stink bugs too, thuogh after knocking them off the tree with a stick – most seem to drown and just a few climb back up the lemon tree. Hopefully aphids wont climb back up the plant. I will wait and see what happens.

  64. Bethany P. June 5, 2017 at 3:53 pm -

    They are attacking rhe only two plants growing in my raised beds: strawberries and lemon balm. I would not have thought they would attack lemon balm, as I thought lemon balm generally repelled garden pests.

  65. Jennyfer Pellerin June 17, 2017 at 8:58 pm -

    They are attacking my two sunflowers and they are inside my veranda!!! How did they get in?? :@

  66. Michelle Paino July 11, 2017 at 1:23 am -

    Well I have discovered those little bastids on my magnificent Willow tree. There is also black soot and the dripping sap / honey dew :-((( I figured all the leaf mulch was making it a stogy and congested.environment without air on the soil. Today I cleared it all, air rated the soil, used Seasol around the drip line. I also prune the tree a little the spray what I could reach with white oil. There are NO ants around.
    So I welcome feedback
    Ps. I’m in Australia and it’s early winter.

  67. Michelle Paino July 22, 2017 at 4:34 am -

    yes around mine as well

  68. Lj Jones April 13, 2018 at 7:31 pm -

    Won’t the lady bugs fly away??

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