Have you noticed those tiny green pear-shaped insects on the leaves of your watermelon, cantaloupe, and/or other cucurbits? Chances are you’ve got melon aphids.
These sap-sucking pests can do major damage to cucurbits like melons, cucumbers, and squash if left unchecked. So, before they get out of control and ruin your harvest, try some of these natural remedies and organic solutions.
Melon aphids are soft-bodied, pear-shaped insects that feed on plant sap . These tiny pests—only 1.1 to 1.7 mm long—attack melons, cucumbers, and related crops.
You’ll spot colonies of the greenish aphids on the undersides of leaves and on the tips of vines. Their feeding causes curled and distorted leaves.
How to Get Rid of Melon Aphids Naturally
Control aphids as soon as you spot them to avoid major damage. Below are some natural remedies you can try so you can enjoy a bountiful harvest.
1. Row Covers
Place the covers over your plants as soon as you transplant seedlings into your garden. The covers act as a physical barrier, preventing pests from reaching your plants.
Check under the row covers regularly to ensure aphids or other pests have not gotten in. You may also need to spray plants with insecticidal soap or something else before covering them if there is already an infestation.
2. Ladybird Beetles
Ladybird beetles, also known as ladybugs, are natural predators of melon aphids.
Therefore, release a colony of ladybugs near the plants that are likely to be affected. The ladybugs will get to work devouring the aphids.
Ladybugs are voracious eaters, consuming up to 5,000 aphids in their lifetime . This natural balance helps provide an environmentally friendly pest control solution for your garden.
3. Green Lacewing Larvae
Green lacewing larvae, also known as aphid lions, are voracious predators of melon aphids.
These tiny larvae hatch from the eggs of green lacewings. They suck bodily fluids from their prey.
A single lacewing larva can consume 200 or more melon aphids within a week.
4. Rosemary Oil
Rosemary essential oil is a natural insect repellent. To use, mix one teaspoon of rosemary essential oil with a gallon of water in a spray bottle.
Moreover, adding a teaspoon of liquid soap will help the mixture stick to the plant.
Spray the solution directly onto aphids and leaves. The strong herbal scent will deter the aphids and confuse them, causing them to leave the plant.
Using natural essential oils like rosemary is an organic way to combat common garden pests like aphids on watermelon plants without toxic chemicals.
5. Reflective Mulches
Reflective mulches, like aluminum foil and reflective plastic film, confuse aphids and deter them from feeding on your plants.
Aphids locate host plants and feeding sites using visual cues. Therefore, reflective mulches disrupt their ability to see the plant, making the location undesirable.
6. Predatory Midges
Predatory midges are tiny flies that prey on melon aphids and other aphids. The larvae can consume up to 60 aphids during their development.
To attract predatory midges to your garden, plant small flower clusters, which provide nectar for the adult midges. By providing a habitat for these beneficial insects, you’ll have natural pest control working for you.
7. Parasitic Wasps
Some parasitic wasps are natural enemies of aphids, like melon aphids.
These insects parasitize aphids by laying eggs inside their bodies. As the wasp larvae develop, they feed on the aphids, eventually killing them.
To support parasitic wasp populations, avoid broad-spectrum pesticides that kill beneficial insects along with the pests. You can also provide food sources like flowering plants that offer nectar and pollen.
8. Insecticidal Soaps
These soaps work by penetrating the insect’s outer body and disrupting cell membranes, causing the pest to dehydrate and die.
You can find pre-made insecticidal soap sprays or make your own using a few simple ingredients.
To make your own soap spray for plants, combine 2 tablespoons of liquid castile soap, 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil, and 1 gallon of water.
Next, shake or stir to combine, and spray directly on aphids and leaves. This homemade melon aphid spray will suffocate the critters on contact.
9. Hand Pick and Destroy Heavily Infested Leaves
Inspect your plants regularly, and remove any leaves that have large groups of these pests on them.
Simply pinch or cut off the infested leaves. Next, dispose of them in sealed bags to prevent the aphids from spreading.
10. Horticultural Oil
When applied properly, natural horticultural oils smother aphids.
Just mix it according to the bottle’s instructions. Apply the solution liberally to both sides of the infested leaves.
11. Neem Oil
Neem oil insecticide kills melon aphids and other common garden pests. It does so by smothering them.
To use this home remedy, mix one teaspoon of pure neem oil with half a teaspoon of mild liquid soap in a quart of water. Shake or stir to mix thoroughly, and spray the entire plant.
12. Remove Weeds
Pull weeds, including their roots, around your melon, cucumber, cantaloupe, etc. patch regularly. Removing weeds from around your plants will help keep away many insect pests, including melon bugs.
13. Repellent Plants
Planting certain herbs and flowers around your melon patch or other potential target crops can help repel these pesky insects in a natural, non-toxic manner.
Some excellent repellent plants to consider include mint, marigolds, rosemary, catnip, and basil.
14. Garlic Spray
Making a natural garlic spray is an easy and effective way to get rid of melon aphids, rose aphids, apple aphids, and others.
Take out 4 to 5 cloves of garlic and blend them up in 2 cups of water. Strain and add a few drops of organic liquid soap, then shake well.
The strong garlic odor deters the aphids and acts as an insecticide. Spray this DIY garlic spray directly on infested plant leaves.
The spray also works as a deterrent, with the pungent garlic aroma repelling the aphids from feeding on the melons or other host crops.
15. Diatomaceous Earth
This powder is made from fossilized algae called diatoms. The tiny particles have razor-sharp edges that cut into the aphids’ bodies, causing them to dehydrate and die.
To use, simply dust the powder onto infested leaves, stems, and the soil around the base of the plant. Also, be sure to coat the undersides of leaves where aphids like to hide.
However, the diatomaceous earth works best under dry conditions, so avoid applying it just before rain or overhead watering.
So there you have it: several effective and natural ways to control or eliminate pesky melon aphids in your garden.
Give these eco-friendly methods a shot. Some may work fast, while others may take a while for you to start seeing results.