Controlling Aphids, Slugs and Snails

Sustainable ways to keep damaging pests away.

Sweet Potato Vine with Aphids

Sweet Potato Vine with Aphids

Aphids appear in great concentrations in early spring, when plants are pushing new growth. These sucking insects love to feast on tender, juicy new growth.

Photo by: Julie Martens Forney

Julie Martens Forney

Aphids appear in great concentrations in early spring, when plants are pushing new growth. These sucking insects love to feast on tender, juicy new growth.

Attacked by aphids? Stricken with snails? Sometimes the smallest pests can do the most damage in your garden. But you don't have to resort to chemical-based pesticides to discourage - or downright evict - bugs, slugs and other small garden enemies. Here are some tried-and-true tactics for keeping them away, naturally:

  • An Ounce of Prevention: The surest way to keep garden insects at bay is to grow healthy, disease-free plants that are a more difficult target for bugs and can  withstand the occasional attack more readily. Regularly inspect leaves for discoloration or damage, and remove, deadhead or pinch off diseased plants or leaves. Appropriate watering for your plant’s needs and healthy, nutrient-rich soil will also help keep your plants healthy. Keep weeds under control, as they can create a safe haven for pests.
  • Make 'Em Prey: One great way to keep pests away is to attract their natural predators to your garden. Your approach may vary depending on the type of pest  you’re dealing with. For example, aphids – also known as “plant lice” – are the prey of wasps, ladybugs, and lacewings, while ground-dwelling slugs fear ground beetles, lizards, toads…and snakes. Research ways to attract the types of critters that can wipe out your pest problem for you!
  • Unsafe Passage: Creeping pests like slugs, snails and caterpillars approach your plants from the ground – so make it a sharp, dangerous place. Spread crushed eggshells beneath the targeted plants and creepy-crawlies will move along.
  • Make A Stink: Many aromatic herbs, like yarrow, citronella, mint, fennel, catnip, basil, and lemongrass are natural deterrents for garden pests from aphids to potato beetles. As an added bonus, some of these herbs also attract the predators that keep pests under control.
  • Choose Your Poison: Flour, salt, beer: all substances that are completely safe for humans, but that can be seriously toxic to insects, slugs and snails. 
Keep Reading

Next Up

Tips for Watering Lawns and Gardens

Without adequate water, plants will suffer and eventually die. Supplies can run short as rapidly growing plants draw up moisture from the soil. It's important to know what to water and how.

How to Fertilize Your Lawn and Garden

Learn how adding fertilizer can be beneficial, especially for fruits, veggies and container plants. Fertilizers can also help kick-start growth after planting and reinvigorate plants that have been pruned hard.

Garden Plants and Flowers

Learn how to discover which plants underscore and help define a specific garden design style.

14 Simple Gardening Tips and Tricks

From using leftover coffee beans to preventing dirt from getting underneath fingernails, master gardener Paul James shares his top 14 tips and shortcuts to make spring gardening a breeze.

Garden Design: Connect Your Indoor and Outdoor Spaces

Let your indoor space inspire your landscape design plans.

Choosing Colors and Textures for Your Garden

Learn how to change the look and feel of your garden with this guide.

Identifying and Controlling Garden Pests

Watch out for these pesky garden pests, and learn how to control them.

Watering Lawns and Gardens

Thorough, careful watering encourages deep, drought-resistant roots in your lawn and garden. Follow the steps below to ensure best results.


Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.