So, you’ve been enjoying your herbs growing SUPER quickly in your AeroGarden.
Only to see that it’s been infested with some kind of bug.
Flying ones. Crawling ones. Perhaps even bugs hiding in the water reservoir down in the roots.
You’re afraid that they’ll eat up your harvest before you can eat it yourself.
Or that they’re contaminating your plants.
Or maybe that you just want to save your precious tomato, basil, thyme, dill, peppers, oregano, chives, cilantro, or other plants from being destroyed by bugs.
AeroGardens are fantastic. I remember when I first got mine and I was surprised how some herbs were growing 1-2” a DAY. I couldn’t believe it. Seriously.
This is 100% due to the bright full-spectrum lighting, exposed roots in water, and self-watering system that’s so intricately designed into these setups.
With great power comes great responsibility.
These hydroponic systems are notorious for bringing in bugs because they provide everything pests need to thrive on plants- food, water, and shelter. The whole shebang.
In this guide, you’ll learn about:
- Why bugs are infesting your AeroGarden
- Types of bugs that are commonly found in hydroponic systems
- How to naturally get rid of AeroGarden bugs
- How to keep bugs out of AeroGarden
- And more
By the end of this guide, you should have a solid foundation of knowledge to tackle any pest that dares to come into your tabletop garden!
Bookmark this page so it’s easier to find it again in the future should you need it!
I suggest you first identify the pest, then jump to it. But if you don’t know what type of bug it is, read on to identify it then go from there.
If you have any questions, post them in the comments and let me know. I’ll try to help you out if I can (as usual!). Straight from yours truly- Anthony at BugWiz.com!
Thankfully, since these systems are used indoors, it makes it that much easier to get rid of those bugs.
Let’s dive in and send those bugs back to the great outdoors.
Why are there bugs in my AeroGarden?
Bugs infest AeroGardens because they provide everything they need. They do bring bugs.
Your neat little ecosystem has everything they need too thrive- a place to breed, hide, and a bountiful supply of food/water.
Wait, that’s supposed to be for you, right?
The short answer: Everything.
Think about it. Bugs need only a few things to thrive:
- Shelter from the elements (warmth)
Your AeroGarden provides all of these necessities by default.
The light is on for 16 hours or more per day. The light generates heat as a byproduct, which keeps the bugs warm during the winter.
The light also obviously makes your plants grow, which gives the pests an endless supply of food. Since the herbs are cut and come again in an AeroGarden, they can sustain their population for generations.
The water reservoir is constantly replenished (by you) when the water gets low.
You’re also feeding your plants with high-quality plant food every two weeks when that red light comes on, so you’re providing plenty of nutrients for the bugs to eat.
Fertilizer buildup in the water tank is a real thing.
Bugs will scale the edges of the AeroGarden to eat it.
If they don’t eat the fertilizer directly, they’ll eat the plant leaves indirectly.
Water is necessary for the bugs to survive.
They may drink the droplets, or eat the microscopic organisms that grow from the water. Mold, mildew, fungus, etc.
These are constantly spawning in your water tank. Spider mites, fungus gnats, silverfish, fleas, whiteflies, aphids, and more will all munch on these.
While you can’t see the microorganisms, they can.
Unless you never clean the tank.
Lastly, the plant. This is usually the first sign of damage people notice from bugs. And this is also when they start to panic and see pests all over their herbs.
Pests will live in the leaves, roots, or buds as they breed, consume, and feed. Some will only come out when the lights are off. Others don’t care.
Everything from aphids to ants will show up, depending on what you’re growing, where you’re located, and the overall cleanliness of your system.
Your system DOES need regular cleaning. Neglect will bring bugs to your AeroGarden hydroponic system.
If you’ve never cleaned it before, just pop that water tank cover off and look at the buildup on the edges. It’s pretty gross.
The combination of hard water deposits, plant fertilizer, and debris is easily seen without a doubt. Cleaning it is crucial to getting rid of bugs for good.
Common types of bugs that infest AeroGardens
This list is comprised of the most common pests you’ll find on your AeroGarden plants:
- Fungus gnats
- Spider mites (and friends)
- Soil mites
- Gnats in general
It’s not inclusive, as you may come across some really weird types. spending on your USDA hardiness zone.
Signs that your AeroGarden has bugs
It’s easy to notice when something’s wrong with your precious harvest.
If you’re regularly cutting back your foliage, you’ll spot some bug damage right away:
- Yellowing or browning of leaves
- Stunted growth
- Wilting or drooping
- Jagged or eaten edges
- Visible pest activity
- Veiny foliage
- Poor quality taste or texture
- Small yield
- Bugs that suddenly fly or move quickly when you harvest
- Flying insects near your system
- Bugs crawling on the leaves, stems, or AeroGarden unit
- Eggs or nymphs on the leaves
- White webbing on the leaves
- Sticky, black or brown mold on the foliage
- Bad tasting cuttings
How to get rid of bugs on your AeroGarden
Here are basic steps to follow to eradicate the bugs hiding in your AeroGarden.
Note that while these procedures work for most bug infestations, they may not work for all.
Additionally, it can harm your plants especially when they’re still seedlings.
If your plants are young, they can easily be damaged by your attempts to eliminate them.
They don’t like being moved while developing their roots systems.
First, unplug the AeroGarden completely from the electrical outlet. This means pulling the plug safely from the wall.
Simply switching off the lights is NOT safe. You need to disconnect the system entirely.
Use common sense. Electricity should never mix with water. Ever.
Remove the lid from the water reservoir with the plants intact.
You can take out each pod if you need to. Be gentle.
Place them on a flat surface with something to soak up the water from the root systems, like a piece of newspaper.
Grab each plant, one at a time, and gently rinse under flowing water. Make sure you get all the leaves, under the leaves, stems, and roots thoroughly.
You can use soap (organic preferred since you’ll be eating these plants) if you need to. The soap should be safe for veggies.
You can buy it online (see Amazon) or at your local store.
If your plant is older with flowers or established root systems, get a pair of pruners. Sterilize them by rubbing alcohol.
Then start pruning the leaves that are heavily infested or damaged. Even though you’ll feel terrible about cutting your infested plants, it’ll remove the eggs, nymphs, and other plant diseases you can’t see.
Dispose of the foliage safely by throwing them out in a secure bag. Do NOT use them as compost.
Use a DIY organic insecticidal soap. You can buy a bottle at any store if you don’t want to mix it yourself, but I find it’s much more satisfying.
You can make your own using the recipe in the next section. Do NOT use any soap that isn’t for edible plants.
This includes outdoor sprays, home defense sprays, or garden repellents. You’ll be eating these plants and they’re posted in your house- probably in the kitchen.
So you need to use some kind of spray that’s safe for edible plants.
Organic is the way to go, friend.
Sure, you pay a few bucks more, but do you want poison all over your gorgeous AeroGarden plants?
Before you spray, ensure that the lights are OFF.
Never spray the plants when the light is on because the temperature difference between the spray and the grow light LEDs can burn them out or even make them shatter.
The plants need to be removed from the AeroGarden before you spray. The lights need to be OFF. ALWAYS!
When spraying, make sure you get the stem, under the leaves, top of the leaves, root systems, and stems. Flowers too.
Use the spray as directed if you purchased a bottle. Apply it to all your plants that are infested. Do NOT spray the AeroGarden system itself. It doesn’t do anything but make your bulbs burn out. Seriously.
Check for signs of eggs, nymphs, or adults on the plant. Look for small bite marks, webbing, or veiny leaves.
Browning or yellowing may also be present. Jagged edges are also common. Holes in the leaves are usually done by boring insects.
If you see these signs of infestation, focus on those areas for pests. Remove them by scrubbing them with a mixture of vinegar/water in a 1:1 ratio.
When the plants are clean, focus on the container. Get a scrubbing pad and wipe the inside of the container.
Get as many surfaces as you can with a soapy water solution.
Wipe the lid, pump, and pod holder rims.
A lot of gunk collects here and on the inside where the water level sits. If you have hard water buildup, use vinegar to clean it.
Don’t forget to check the light holder or light surface itself, especially if it’s been in contact with your plants. Don’t use anything wet to clean the LEDs.
Just use a dry wipe to remove debris. Do not spray lights or use anything liquid on them or they’ll burn out or shatter!
Put the lid back onto the water tank. Put your plants back. Refill with clean water. Add fertilizer if necessary.
Plug it back in. you’re done!
You’ll need to set the light timer since it’s been unplugged for an extended period. Just press and hold down the “lights on/off” button for a few seconds to reset it. See full directions on their official site.
How to make your own DIY organic insecticide spray for AeroGarden
There’s no need to buy expensive sprays at the hardware store when you can make your own at home!
You know exactly what’s in it. And it works.
If it doesn’t, then you can resort to an organic spray from the nursery. But try this first before you buy.
Save yourself some money.
This recipe should be safe for MOST AeroGarden plants, but I suggest you do further reading online for your specific plant.
If you have a non-traditional plant (something weird), be sure it’s OK for the following DIY remedies before you use them on it.
What you’ll need:
- 2 tablespoon organic castile soap
- 2-3 drops of peppermint essential oil
- 1 gallon of water
- Organic garlic clove (optional)
How to make it:
- Get a gallon container and fill it up with water
- Add the organic castile soap
- Add 2-3 drops of peppermint oil (this acts as a natural repellent)
- Gently stir until suds form
- Dice the onion and put the bits into the spray (this is optional, but will stink)
- If you use onion, let it sit for 24 hours before you spray. Don’t let your plants sit out during this time. Put them back in the container for now because they’ll dry out.
- The onion helps keep most bugs out of your AeroGarden naturally because, well, it’s garlic. The strong aroma from it naturally deters most pests and lets them soak in the insecticidal works.
How to use it:
- Spray the undersides of leaves, tops of leaves, stems, and other areas where you suspect pests to be present.
- You can’t always see them, so just spray a light layer to be sure.
- You should be spraying with the plant OUT of the hydroponic system.
- You can also use a cotton bud to “rub” the spray onto the plants. Cotton will also remove eggs like a sponge from your plants.
- Don’t overspray. If the concentration is too strong, it can burn or yellow your plants. You should test it on a single leaf first before using it on the entire thing.
If you notice that the plant suffers, then use more water.
If the spray doesn’t do anything, use more soap.
Another option to purge your plants
If you spray but the bugs never entirely get eliminated, perhaps dipping your plants will do the trick.
This is a simple process, but can severely damage your plants if done incorrectly.
Hydroxide dipping is soaking your plants in peroxide for a short period of time. It kills pretty much everything.
Here’s a video showing how it works:
Keeping bugs out of your AeroGarden
Here are some tips and tricks on keeping bugs away from your system for good.
The secret ingredient? Keeping consistent with your cleaning regimen.
Do regular cleanings, keep moisture low, prune on a schedule, and keep it tidy.
Doing these basic practices will reduce the possibility of a bug problem by a tremendous percentage!
You may NEVER have to deal with bugs again if you keep at it.
If you make your setup less appealing opt bugs, then why would they infest it in the first place?
Use essential oils
Essential oils can be a very powerful repellent for bugs.
Get some peppermint or lavender essential oil then spritz some into a cotton ball. Place the cotton ball infused with essential oils next to your AeroGarden.
You can nudge it right between each individual plant. Or you can put around the unit’s edge.
Some of the most popular oils you can use for your hydroponic setups are the following:
Be sure not to get any of the oils IN your system’s water supply or contaminate your plants with it. They’re usually never to be ingested. You can find these at local specialty stores or online.
Note that some essential oils are dangerous for pets or people, so you need to read the label and use as directed. Do you own research before you use it. Exercise common sense.
Essential oils are smelly, but they work. So you shouldn’t use it somewhere that you’ll be spending time in.
Pest repelling plants
There are plants that have natural pest-repelling properties.
Consider planting these next to your hydroponic system for a synergetic way to keep bugs out.
Well, it’s not really synergy as the AeroGarden is leeching the pest-repelling powers of the neighboring plant.
But you get what I mean.
These plants all have some kind of defense mechanism to keep bugs away– whether it’s by scent or not.
See which one you’re able to grow near your fruits or vegetables.
They need the same setup if they’re going to be next to each other.
The light that shoots down from the AeroGarden should be plenty enough for typical plants, so while they’re growing in different containers, the lighting situation is take care of.
Keep humidity in control
As always, keeping your humidity low will help. Since the system is basically a pool of water, it can be difficult.
You can try moving it to an area that has good ventilation or near a filtered window.
Small tabletop fans can also help get rid of the moisture content.
You’re supposed to use a capful every two weeks, or when the light comes on.
There’s no need to to overdo it. You’re just wasting the plant food and bringing in bugs.
People panic because their plants are growing like crazy and they think more food is necessary to support them. This isn’t necessary. Keep the feeding as the manufacture suggests.
The light, water, and regular pruning is much more critical.
Line the perimeter with organic diatomaceous earth
If it’s crawling bugs you’re after, you can get some food-grade diatomaceous earth. Make sure it’s organic and food-grade. Because there’s a pool-grade one that’s definitely NOT edible.
Line the perimeter of your setup with this fine white powder. Any bugs that touch it will get the powder stuck to their exoskeleton, which will piece their hard shell.
Over time, they’ll dehydrate then perish. Pretty, cool, huh?
You should avoid putting any diatomaceous earth on the actual AeroGarden, just around it. Make a rectangle around it like a fence. Any bug that crawls on it will get killed.
DE is cheap and you can buy a bulk pack online (check on Amazon) or from your local store.
Keep your AeroGarden CLEAN
You know the drill by now:
- Clean the reservoir monthly
- Wipe down the edges with soapy water
- Dry wipe the light bulbs
- Check plants for signs of infestation
- Clean the gunk off the edges of the pod holders
- Clean the inside thoroughly
- Wash plant roots if infested
If you need more tips or prefer a video, here’s a good one:
Getting rid of specific bugs
If you’ve identified the pest, here are some focused instructions specific to that pest.
Find the bug eating your leaves and get detailed specifics on getting rid of it.
If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment at the end of this page!
Basil is another popular plant that bugs just love to eat.
The aroma of it brings in all sorts of bugs that eat it- fungus gnats, fungus ants, and aphids are all common pests.
Even though some people don’t like basil, bugs do.
Probably you, too, as you’re reading this. The only person that should be enjoying those delicious tender basil leaves is you and yours!
For basil, you may see these buggers:
- Fungus ants
To get rid of them, try the following:
- Keep your basil regularly pruned- remove excess basil that’s surplus for later use
- Never overfertilize your system
- Do a complete water change every other month
- Scrub the reservoir with a solution of vinegar and water
- Check for signs of basil pests (jagged leaves, poor yield, yellowing, browning, wilting, damaged stems, etc.)
- Set up fly traps
- Use sticky tape around the stems
- Sprinkle food-grade diatomaceous earth around the rim of the tray that holds your pods together
For further info, check out this guide on getting rid of bugs on basil naturally.
Whiteflies are exactly what they sound like- they’re tiny flies that will flutter when you disturb them.
They hang around on the leaves of your herbs and will munch on them, extracting the precious nutrients.
When you feed, harvest, or otherwise even just go near your blooming AeroGarden, they flutter out like a white pillow of tiny butterflies.
Except less pretty.
Whiteflies are the cousin of aphids- just as annoying with just as much damage.
Here are some ways you can get rid of them from your AeroGarden:
First, like most pest problems, prune off the leaves that are infested.
Use a sterilized pruner and clean it before you cut.
Do clean snips of plant foliage that have been eaten or have visible damage on them. This could be infested with whitefly eggs but you can’t see it.
Next, do a complete purge of the water reservoir. Follow the steps above.
Rinse your herbs with water running from the sink. Rinse thoroughly.
The water removes any gnats or flies without harming your plants. Rinse the leaves, roots, stems, etc.
Use a soft toothbrush to scrub the leaves to remove any eggs. While you can taste them, assume they’re there. You can use a cotton bud or sponge for smaller plants to remove them without damage.
Following that, spray organic pesticide. Make your own or buy some. Again, make sure it’s safe for use. Use as directed.
It should be reapplied as needed.
When you’re done cleaning up, that should be all that’s needed to eliminate the majority of the gnat population.
They’re not hard to get rid of, just a nuisance to deal with.
For more info, see this guide on natural DIY whitefly remedies.
Spider mites can be very difficult to eliminate because of their small size.
These mites will suck the sap out of your herbs by piercing them with sharp mouthparts.
They extract the precious nutrients from the leaves, which then creates a bunch of small pores in them.
This makes it hard for it to contain moisture since it’ll constantly be seeping out of these tiny holes.
If there are enough spider mites piercing your plants, they can wither and be killed by them.
So act quickly if you suspect that mites are eating your AeroGarden herbs.
Since mites are small, you can look for these signs of damage:
- Small red or gray spots on the undersides of leaves
- White webbing on the leaf surfaces or undersides
- Yellowing or browning leaves
- Dry foliage
- Wilting plant
- Failed blooms
- Poor herb production
- Stunted growth
- Plants not growing
- Slow growth
- Bad taste
Spider mites will need a more powerful insecticide to kill.
You’ll want to stick with only using ORGANIC pesticides that are safe for edible plants.
There are some pyrethrin-based insecticidal soaps that work well for eliminating mites you can find online (see them on Amazon).
In addition to using a pyrethrin-based spray, you can also:
- Prune infested leaves as soon as you notice the damage
- Do a complete cleaning of your AeroGarden
- Use sticky tape around each stem of your herb
- Continue to monitor for mite damage
Whatever you do, don’t use synthetic or dangerous insecticides.
These aren’t made for edible plants. Stick with organic products that specifically say they’re made for veggies or herbs and can be consumed.
The label should also list “mites” or “spider mites” as a pest it works on.
Pyrethrin is considered organic but does come with its own list of hazards. Always do your own research before you spray ANYTHING on your plants.
Compounds can stick around in your AeroGarden for many weeks after you spray them.
So keep that in mind before you go spraying like a mad lad.
Gnats can be an issue, especially when you’re growing tasty tomatoes or herbs.
They like the moisture that the AeroGarden provides.
Gnats are all about staying in a high humidity environment with plenty of food to eat.
Fungus gnats can be hard to get rid of since they love to infest and hide in hydroponic systems.
They’ll likely hide in the water reservoir, within the leaves, or in the flowers if you have them.
While there are different types of gnats, they all like one thing: water.
If your plants are growing like crazy and the foliage is dense (good on you), it inhibits the ability of the plants to evaporate the water.
So moisture builds up over time. This brings gnats in. This can make it hard to keep fungus gnats out of AeroGardens.
A quick way to get rid of gnats is to prune your plant.
Cut off excess foliage, infested parts, or just harvest then store or eat the fruit. This will reduce the leaves and then the water will evaporate quicker.
You can also spray some DIY insecticides to help eliminate them.
If you get rid of the moisture, the gnat population will reduce. You can also move the entire system to somewhere that’s less humid.
If you’re keeping it in a bathroom or near the kitchen sink, those areas will generate moisture in the air so it’s bad for pests.
Consider moving your AeroGarden to a place that gets plenty of air circulation or near filtered sunlight by a window.
Don’t put it directly in the light, but near it. The heat will dry up the water droplets which can eliminate gnats naturally. You can also put a small fan that blows at your herbs 24/7.
Mosquito larvae can be found in stagnant water.
Since AeroGardens have that nifty built-in pump that waters your roots for you, there’s no need to be scared.
The constant irrigation that turns on every half-hour is enough to keep mosquitoes out.
HOWEVER, if your pump is broken, dirty, clogged, or you don’t use it, this can lead to some serious mosquito problems.
If a pregnant female mosquito gets into your water tank, it can deposit eggs on the edges that can be dormant for years.
When the water level rises to meet the eggs, they’ll hatch into larvae that’ll bite you all night.
This is only a problem for those that run it without the pump. Maybe yours is broken, doesn’t include a pump, or you leave it unplugged?
I’m not knowledgeable about all the AeroGarden models out there. But for mine, there’s a built-in pump that irrigates the roots.
This consistent movement of water will be enough to keep mosquitoes out of the system.
But if you have mosquitoes in yours, here’s what to do:
- Unplug the unit entirely.
- Remove the lid with the pods/plants gently.
- Set it aside somewhere where it can stand up. Use books or something to keep it up.
- Pour out the water in the container.
- Wash it with a solution of soapy water.
- Scrub the edges of the reservoir with a sponge.
- Dry it out.
- Fill it up with clean water.
- Put your plants back.
- Add plant food if necessary.
That’s it. It should now be free from mosquito larvae/eggs.
In the future, if you need to keep the pump off or your property is just prone to mosquito infestations, consider using mosquito repellents.
You can get organic mosquito bands, oils, lights, sonic emitters, sprays, dunks, candles, torches, and more. There are a ton of natural ways to keep them out of your home that are safe for indoor plant setups.
These are donut-shaped repellents that are put in the water. The donuts contain a compound that kills larvae.
But make sure you use one that’s safe for plants since you’ll be eating the herbs that grow in it. Use an organic method if possible.
These bugs are the bane of any AeroGarden owner. They show up in huge numbers and leave a sticky soot all over the leaves.
The soot brings in ants, which eat it. This harms the plant’s ability to generate energy.
The easiest way to is to start by removing each plant individually. Wash the aphids off. Wash the roots. Then spray some organic insecticide. Be sure that it has residual effects, so it’ll keep them off.
Aphids will likely show up in smaller numbers. Remove them manually by gloved fingers then dunking them in some water with soap.
You can continue to spritz your plants regularly with plain water to disturb the aphids continually. This makes them frustrated so they’ll leave your plants.
Make sure it’s safe for consumption/use on edibles. Use as directed.
You may find these references helpful:
- What are these bugs?! – Houzz
- Aerogarden Pests?! – Reddit
- Bug Problem? – AeroGarden Blog
- I think there are bugs on my plants – AeroGarden Blog
- Got Aphids? – AeroGarden Blog
Pest guides you may find helpful
Here are some specific pest control guides for bugs that you’ll come across in AeroGarden systems:
- Bugs on basil
- Spider mites
- Fungus gnats
- Soil mites
- Pepper bugs
- Bugs on tomato
- Bugs on cilantro
- Tiny ants
- Bugs in the kitchen trash
- Bugs on hibiscus
- Bugs on cauliflower
- Gnats in the kitchen
- Bugs in dry food storage
Did you get rid of the bugs in your AeroGarden?
Now you know all the basic DIY remedies for eliminating common pests you may come across in your AeroGarden.
You have some good starter info for controlling, managing, and eradicating aphids, gnats, mosquitoes, and more.
Those herbs are precious and vulnerable. They sit in the same spot all day sprouting their delicious foliage for you to eat.
But those 16+ hours of bright light coming from your AeroGarden, exposed root systems floating in the water, and a bountiful supply of plant food that you’re adding in every two weeks provide plenty of food for pests!
But that’s no match for the newfound knowledge you’ve just obtained from this guide, right?
You’re going to kill all those pests, prevent you from ever touching your AeroGarden again, and enjoy the fruits of your labor.
If you have any specific questions about a pest infestation, post a comment below and I’ll try to help you out.
If you found this guide somewhat helpful, please consider sharing it with your AeroGarden fans- perhaps they’ll get some value out of it =]?
Thanks for reading.
Currently an active researcher in the pest control industry for the past 8 years- with a focus on using natural and organic methods to eliminate pest problems.
I share handy DIY pest techniques I come across here to help out others (and possibly save them from a mental breakdown).
Fight nature with nature.