Being a relatively hardy species, aphids can be a difficult pest to get rid of. These insects can take over your plants quickly on both indoor houseplants and the outdoor growth in your garden beds. While pesticides to kill aphids are available, you should look into natural alternatives before resorting to a chemical treatment. One natural option you may consider is whether you can drown aphids in water.
Yes, it is possible to drown aphids. These insects will eventually suffocate if completely submerged in water for a prolonged period. However, this method isn’t entirely reliable on its own as aphids have developed a few mechanisms that protect them from drowning in overly wet conditions.
What Are Aphids?
Aphids are tiny insects that have soft, pear-shaped bodies. There are many different subspecies of aphids that come in a range of colors, primarily green, but also coming in shades of black, brown, red, yellow, and even pink.
Aphids live and feed on plant foliage, including the plant’s leaves, buds, and flowers. Some species of aphids prefer specific types of plants, while all species have a preference to feed on new growth, such as young, tender shoots or leaves. They suck the sap out of the plant and secrete a substance known as honeydew as a byproduct of their feeding.
These pests can reproduce rapidly, with just a few insects being able to cause a full blown infestation in a matter of weeks. Their reproduction is particularly rapid on plants with lots of new growth due to their preference for these parts. Another factor to note is that aphids are able to reproduce asexually; in other words, they can produce offspring without needing a mate. A single aphid is able to produce over 100 offspring per week and can continuously do so all throughout the summer.
Can You Drown Aphids?
Yes, aphids will drown if fully submerged underwater for a prolonged period of time. With that said, this is less like downing and closer to suffocation due to the way in which these insects respire.
Like all insects, aphids don’t breathe through a mouth or nose, nor do they have lungs or a circulatory system. They instead take in oxygen through tiny openings in their bodies called spiracles, before expelling carbon dioxide using the same openings.
When submerged in water, the water blocks the aphids’ spiracles and prevents them from being able to take in oxygen. This causes the insects to eventually suffocate to death. However, even when fully submerged, aphids can survive for hours underwater – we explain this further in the following section.
How Long Do Aphids Survive Underwater?
As we’ve mentioned, aphids can survive for a significant amount of time underwater before drowning completely. This is another characteristic afforded by the breathing systems of aphids and other insects.
Insects such as aphids have exoskeletons, in which they can store unused oxygen for later use. This feature enables aphids to survive for a long time underwater if they have enough oxygen stored up before becoming submerged. Therefore, attempting to drown the aphids with watering alone will likely prove ineffective if nothing is in place to keep them submerged for a long period of time.
Can You Drown Aphid Eggs?
The eggs of the aphids are a lot more vulnerable to drowning if submerged in water. This is a more effective method to prevent aphid outbreaks if you spot the eggs before they hatch.
Submerging the eggs in water is usually enough to destroy the immature aphids they contain. However, aphid eggs are relatively hardy; they can overwinter and tend to hatch very quickly, and may even resist destruction when submerged. Even if this happens, the nymphs will not survive beyond hatching as they won’t have had the chance to store up additional oxygen.
Does Water Kill Aphids?
No, water doesn’t kill aphids on its own. Simply coming into contact with water will not harm an aphid as they’re quite a resilient species of insect. As we’ve explained, the aphids must be completely submerged underwater for a long period of time in order for it to kill them.
Can Aphids Swim?
Yes, aphids can swim, or at the very least float on the top of the water. This is another reason why your attempts to drown an aphid population by watering the garden alone may not be completely effective; there is a chance that the insects will escape by swimming away until the plants are dry enough for them to return.
Can You Use Water to Get Rid of Aphids?
You can use a jet of water to get rid of aphids from your garden plants without necessarily killing them. This is a good option of natural aphid control if you aren’t comfortable with drowning the aphids completely. However, you should keep in mind that this will destroy and kill off any aphid eggs, despite not causing any harm to the mature aphids.
All you need to do is give your plants a blast of water using your garden hose on a powerful setting. This will be enough to remove most or all of the aphids and will put them off returning to your plants. Some hose attachments are designed to be used specifically for this purpose.
What Are the Alternative Options of Natural Aphid Control?
There are many ways to get rid of aphids naturally aside from drowning them in water. These include:
- Create your own DIY aphid repellant spray from water and liquid soap. This solution will kill the aphids without harming nearby plants.
- Treating affected plants with neem oil.
- Planting odorous plants that repel aphids such as garlic, onions, and chives.
- Using slow-release, low-nitrogen fertilizer to reduce new growth, thus discouraging reinfestations.
- Getting rid of ants; these insects encourage populations of aphids as they consume the sugary honeydew that aphids secrete.
- Attracting birds to your garden by setting up birdhouses, particularly wrens.
- Setting up sticky traps around your outdoor or indoor plants.
- Using diatomaceous earth to kill aphids.