Aphids come in all shapes, sizes, colours and types. But regardless of the kind of aphids, they all do a lot of damage, and it is important to get rid of them as soon as you can. One of the best ways of getting rid of aphids naturally is to encourage predators. So what insects kill aphids in the garden?
There are a number of insects that kill aphids including ladybugs, lacewings beetles and parasitic wasps.
It’s also important to know that while there are some insects that will kill and/or eat aphids, there are other insects that will go out of their way to protect aphids.
What Insects Eat Aphids?
As a human, it’s easy to be disgusted by aphids. They’re small, creepy insects that cause havoc across your garden. But to many predators, aphids are sugary sweet in taste. So what insects kill then eat aphids?
Perhaps the most famous predator of aphids is ladybugs. Ladybugs, whether they are adults or larvae, feed on aphids. In fact, it’s safe to say that ladybug larvae are particularly ravenous when it comes to feasting on aphids.
Ladybugs love aphids because of the sweet nectar they produce. These brightly coloured insects will lay eggs on aphid nests, and when the eggs hatch, the larvae come out of the eggs and feeds on the aphids.
If your garden has been infested with aphids and you wish to use a natural route to get rid of them, you can use ladybugs. Some ladybugs are commercially available to purchase online, and you can get them to kill the annoying aphids that have been harming your plants.
However, a one-time application of ladybugs will not be enough. To get rid of aphids permanently, you will need multiple applications and a large number of ladybugs.
Before releasing ladybugs into your garden for biological control, it’s a good idea to ensure your garden is ladybug friendly:
- Install a ladybird house
- Plant attractive flowers such as yarrow, angelica, fennel, calendula and marigolds
- Avoid using pesticides
Lacewings come in green and brown forms. These insects also consume aphids, and if you cannot find ladybugs, you can use lacewings instead.
If you buy lacewings, you will notice that they are much bigger than ladybugs. This is why lacewings are not only available in adult form, but you can also buy lacewing eggs and larvae as they’re far easier to transport and distribute.
The best thing you can do for your plants is to buy lacewings in larvae form because they are likely to survive longer.
Soldier beetles are also known as leather wings, and you can use them to kill aphids. If you are unfamiliar with soldier beetles, you should know that they have long bodies and are mustard in colour.
Since soldier beetles are soft-bodied insects, they also feed on other soft-bodied insects like aphids. However, it is important to know that if you intend on using soldier beetles, you must get the adult kind.
This is because the larvae of soldier beetles will not be effective against aphids. It is also not easy to get soldier beetles from markets as they are rarely sold. Instead, you’ll have to work hard to attract soldier beetles into your garden if you want them to kill aphids for you.
Another insect that feeds on aphids is damsel bugs. These bugs are found naturally in gardens and, more commonly, in orchards.
While damsel bugs feed on aphids, unfortunately, they are unavailable commercially. Therefore, many people are unaware of them as a biological control solution and barely use damsel bugs due to their unavailability.
There are some insects on this list who are classified as general predators because they’ll eat a range of bugs. However, parasitic wasps feed, especially on aphids. Parasitic wasps are found in different species, and all of them feed on aphids.
However, unlike other insects, the parasitic wasp has a different way of dealing with aphids.
The wasp does not attack and kill aphids nor do they eat them. Instead, parasitic wasps will lay their eggs inside aphids. When the eggs hatch, the larvae grow inside the aphid’s bodies.
As a result, the aphid’s body will change as it becomes swollen. Finally, when the larvae grow enough, they will rip out of the body, killing the aphid.
Parasitic wasps are commercially available, and you can use them to kill any aphid infestations.
Do Ants Eat Aphids?
If you have an aphid infestation, you will notice that one particular insect will accompany this infestation: Ants. Therefore, naturally, one has to question if ants eat aphids.
However, ants and aphids have symbiotic relationships. The relationship means that ants benefit from aphids. Therefore, ants and aphids together have a good relationship, and they thrive with each other.
Aphids produce sweet nectar, which ants love. Therefore, ants will capture herds of aphids and will nurture them. The ants cut the wings off the aphids so they cannot fly and will make them produce the sweet nectar by tickling or licking them.
Ants will kill and destroy any insects that attack aphids. Most commonly, ladybugs fall victim to ants because they consume aphids.
If you spot aphids and ants together then one of the ways of weakening an aphid infestation is to get rid of the ants too.
Aphids are soft-bodied insects that feed on plants. These insects cause damage to gardens, and it is important to get rid of them because plants get yellow and curl.
While aphids only feed on plants, other insects feed on aphids. Some of these insects include ladybugs, lacewings and wasps. In addition, some insects are generalist predators of aphids, while some will especially feed on aphids and attack them.
The most common insect to feed on aphids is ladybugs, while others include damsel bugs and beetles.
Other kinds of insects that attack aphids are parasitic wasps. These wasps do not eat or kill aphids, but they lay their eggs inside them.
Finally, some insects have a symbiotic relationship with aphids like ants. Ants will capture a herd of aphids and nurture them for their sweet nectar and will attack any insect-like ladybugs that eat aphids. Therefore, it can be alarming if you find ants in your garden because they are likely catering to the aphids.
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