Aphids are pests that can ruin our plants and veggie crops. They can become particularly problematic if they inhabit fruit and vegetable plants, so let’s have a look at how we can deal with that and how you can control aphids on kale plants.
Will Aphids Live on Kale Plants?
Aphids will live on most plants, including kale.
Certain species are more likely to inhabit kale, and some of these species can live through the winter on the kale.
This is when there are fewer aphid predators and also when the plants are weaker, meaning that they can cause significantly more damage to the plants in these months than in the summer.
That’s why you must learn how to control aphids on your kale plants, especially if you’re a keen vegetable grower.
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What Aphid Species Live on Kale?
Most species of aphids will quite happily inhabit kale plants and cabbages, but there are some species you are more likely to find on your kale plants than others. Some of these species are listed below.
Green Peach Aphids
Despite their name, these aphids are not just found on peach trees. They are found on all varieties of cole crops which includes kale. These aphids are green in colour and are less dangerous to cole crops than some other species of aphids.
You need to keep an eye out for these dangerous aphid species on your kale. They aren’t dangerous to humans, but these blueish-grey aphids can cause many problems for your kale.
They live on kale in very large colonies and can survive throughout winter. This means that they are present on your kale in a time of fewer predators so your kale may become afflicted with wilting, yellowing leaves or stunted growth.
Of course, these are not the only aphid species you can find on kale, but they are the most common. This means they are also the most damaging for your kale, so it is important to remove them.
Using Biological Control
Biological control is a common method of pest control. It is a natural method and utilises predators to help keep the population of pests, such as aphids, at a low and manageable number and is one of the best ways to control aphids on your kale plants.
Here are some creatures you can procure for biological control:
You may know these as also ladybirds or lady beetles. These insects are most likely the main predator of aphid species.
Whilst they will eat most insect species, a ladybug’s diet consists primarily of aphids.
They can consume at least their body weight every day by just eating aphids. There are many biological control suppliers which can provide you with ladybugs for your garden.
They can also help to rid your garden of other pests such as spider mites.
The thought of larvae may not appeal in your garden, but they are very effective at their job.
They can catch the tiny aphids in their curved jaws and will eat a large number of them every day. You can also procure these insect larvae from various biological control suppliers.
Other species, such as spiders, wasps and birds, will also eat the aphids in your garden. You cannot obtain these through suppliers but making your garden more attractive to these species can bring the added benefit of extra aphid control.
Should You Use Pesticides?
There is no doubt that pesticides are effective against aphids, but their use should be avoided if possible. Many pesticides contain strong chemicals which will work their way up the food chain after a deceased aphid is eaten.
This can then cause a lot of damage to animals that are further up in the food chain, therefore impacting the ecosystem.
As well as being bad for the environment, the overuse of pesticides can cause harm to your plants. Particularly on vegetable plants such as kale.
The costs outweigh the benefits of pesticides, and natural aphid control methods are safer and often cheaper.
Which Plants Deter Aphids?
Another popular method of control for gardeners is to grow specific plants around the garden. These plants may have a property that aphids do not like, or they may act as trap plants. Let’s have a look at some of the most popular plant choices to help control aphids.
Aphids do not like the smell of catnip, so planting some around your affected plants could help to reduce some of the population. However, you may need to be careful if you have a cat yourself that your catnip doesn’t disappear overnight.
Much like catnip, aphids do not like the strong smell of this bulbous plant and will often leave the surrounding plants alone. Garlic has been known to help in particular with controlling aphids around rose bushes, which are one of their favourite places.
These bright flowers have a very distinct and strong odour that aphids dislike, much like the others.
However, there are strains of unscented marigolds so make sure that you don’t plant them as, without their off-putting scent, the bright colours of marigolds can be quite attractive to aphids.
Sunflowers are known as trap plants. This is because their bright yellow petals appeal to aphids, meaning that they will likely leave your other plants alone instead of inhabit the sunflowers.
And because of its hardy structure, it will take a lot for the aphids to cause damage to the flower.
These are not the only effective plants but the ones most highly praised by gardeners. Remember to surround your kale with deterring plants and to keep trap plants away from it so that it is kept safe.
In conclusion, aphids do like kale and can cause damage to the crop. The species of aphid you are most likely to see on your kale is the cabbage aphid.
When it comes to ways you can control aphids on kale, you can use natural methods such as biological control and trap plants to control the population of aphids. Pesticides are effective against aphids but they are bad for the environment and should be avoided.
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Ryan is a keen gardener from the UK who’s spent years dealing with countless, common pests over the years so knows the ins and outs of how to deal with pests in the garden