Aphids on milkweed are the issues that mean you’re dealing with oleander flower aphids. Milkweed is your standard decoy plant and often serves as an aphid trap, so you’ve nothing to worry about.
But, if you’re growing milkweed as your garden or flower bed addition, stick around for useful tips on dealing with these bugs, so read on.
- Why Are There Aphids on Milkweeds?
- How To Fight Back the Aphid Infestation on Milkweed?
Why Are There Aphids on Milkweeds?
There are aphids on the milkweeds because they can hide from predators, as well as come to the plant from the surrounding weeds, and lastly, because the sap of the milkweed can be one that is rich in nutrients.
– Hiding From Predators
These critters are known to be social butterflies, as they love to gather in clusters. Look underneath the leaves, tender stems, and flower buds of your milkweed which is where they love to hide. But if you’re able to spot one, you’ll likely find a whole crew nearby, and this is due to how they would be running away from their predators.
Aphids measure just one to four millimeters in length, and their fashion sense varies wildly, although milkweed ones are almost always orange. You would see them below the leaves, and underneath the stems or the nodes, and this is due to the fact that they are not making themselves show.
Its bright yellow body stands out against the lush green backdrop of your milkweed leaves. These aphids have a unique feature on their backside called cornicles, which are little stalks extending from the abdomen.
– Coming To Surrounding Weeds
When the aphid community gets a bit overcrowded, or if their current host plant becomes less appealing, they decide to spread their wings in search of new horizons. The reason that your milkweed is going to suffer from this is that in the surroundings, there are some weeds that appear as the growth develops. They are coming as the aphids are primarily attracted to the weeds and wish to continue their growth in the surroundings.
These tiny pests do quite some damage to the plants’ vitality. As they feast away, your poor milkweed starts to weaken, losing its charm and appeal to the Monarch butterflies. However, the weeds are what will draw them near.
Note that they are looking for food and habitat, and as they grow, they will also take on different plants, and after weeds, if milkweed is near, they will infest.
However, not all of them will have wings. The majority of aphids on milkweed prefer to keep their feet firmly planted, but there’s a way to recognize them. Their soft bodies are like pears at the front, tapering off towards the back, as weeds become weakened, they will go for the next best thing.
– Look For Insect Activity
As if fungal growth isn’t enough, a remarkable twist happens when the ants join forces with the aphids. They become the guardians of the precious honeydew suppliers, protecting them like bodyguards. So, if you happen to notice a mysterious sticky film or a dark, uninviting coating on your common milkweed leaves, chances are those aphids are up to to no good.
The aphids get to enjoy their sap-sucking without worrying about predators, and the ants have their sugar-coated party to attend regularly. It’s a win-win for both species!
The next time you spot ants marching toward your milkweed, they’re probably not just random party crashers. These tiny troublemakers have a sweet tooth for plant sap, and after they indulge they leave behind a sticky, gooey secretion– a sugary substance called honeydew.
Excess honeydew hanging around your milkweed can also lead to less-than-charming consequences. Sooty mold, a black-colored fungus that just adores the sticky surface for its development.
How To Fight Back the Aphid Infestation on Milkweed?
To fight back the aphid infestation on milkweed, you should make sure that you remove them manually or try to attract good insects. You may hose them off, use an alcohol solution, spray some soap solution, use neem oil, brush them off, place companion plants, prune, and vacuum them.
– Manual Removal
If you’re up for a hands-on approach, you can take on the aphids face-to-face. Although it may take some time and patience, this method is effective. You’re likely dealing with Oleander Aphids (Aphis nerii), also known as the milkweed aphids. Don’t let the name fool you — this little bug is anything but native to your milkweeds.
Simply squish the aphids between your fingers and bid them farewell. If you’ve got the stomach, it can become a pleasurable experience, but remember to wear gloves. However, you must also make sure that you dump or dispose of them, you can also drown the ones you pick right into some kind of acid so that if they aren’t crushed, they will die either way, and not free themselves and infest again.
Watch out for monarch eggs and caterpillars. The sooner you catch those aphids, the better. If you spot even just a few of them, don’t hesitate – act fast and remove them immediately. It’s the best way to prevent an aphid takeover in your garden.
– Attract Good Insects
Get ready to call in the reinforcements — the tiny superheroes of the insect world! Beneficial insects are like the ultimate guardians of your garden, keeping those orange aphids in check with their incredible skills.
There’s a whole squad of natural aphid predators you should know about. Ladybugs are the most hated aphid enemy, next to lacewings and hoverflies. These are great options if you can try to breed them because these predators will not harm your garden but will aim to feed on the pests. They will take some time, but eventually, your garden will be free of aphids that are ruining the health of the plant.
If you’re a fan or a breeder of monarch butterflies, it’s recommended to first rescue monarch caterpillars and eggs and transfer them to another milkweed plant. The caterpillars will help you kill aphids, as these are a source of food for the caterpillar, but they won’t stand some of the methods.
Aphidius wasps might sound frightening, but they’re actually on our side, fiercely devouring aphids without harming anything else. Attract all of these by planting a few more flowers all around.
– Hose Them
When those aphids start causing trouble on your milkweed, it’s time to have them face the water. A strong stream from the garden hose is all it takes.
With one hand, gently hold the milkweed plant to avoid any accidental stem breakage. We don’t want any garden mishaps on our watch! Aim the hose or a spray bottle at those pesky aphids, and watch them get the hint to find another spot.
Spotting those orange pests on milkweed is one thing, but how do we get them off and prevent them from infecting other precious garden plants? Well, there’s plenty you could do, actually! And while prevention is your best bet, you cannot always have your eyes peeled on the plants, just be sure that the pressure of the hose isn’t too strong, or else the plant will have different issues.
– Use Alcohol
Some gardening experts swear by a trusty spray bottle filled with a special ingredient – isopropyl alcohol. A quick spritz on the infected area will kill the aphids in an instant.
Only hold the spray for about 5 seconds. We don’t want to go overboard and cause any collateral damage. After the countdown, it’s time for a refreshing water shower — grab that hose and wash the bodies and alcohol away!
This approach is best suited for heavy aphid invasions. We want to keep our local ecosystem buzzing with life, so let’s not go overboard and create an aphid-free garden at the expense of other friendlies. On the other hand, when using isopropyl alcohol, be extra cautious around monarch caterpillars — always try to ensure there are none on the plant before proceeding.
– Soap Sprays
We’ve got the ultimate aphid remedy — a homemade insecticidal soap! You should begin by mixing up a potion with two tablespoons of regular dish soap and a gallon of water. Give it a good shake, pour into the spray bottle, and you’re good to go!
A gentle spray directly on the invaders will prove lethal. Rinse, and then get ready to repeat the process if the aphids dare to make a comeback. Just be careful that you don’t do this in an excessive way, or else, the plant can be harmed, if the soap solution is heavy for it.
– Neem Tree Oil
Nature’s own pesticide straight from the neem tree seeds! Using neem tree oil on your milkweed requires a delicate touch, as it can impact our beloved butterfly caterpillars and eggs.
Mix one tablespoon of neem oil with a gallon of water in a spray bottle. You can also add a few drops of dish soap to the mix! Before going all-in, do a mini-test on a small part of your milkweed to ensure it can handle the oil.
Once the milkweed gives the green light, spray away, so what you have to do is get every nook and cranny, especially those sneaky aphid hideouts under the leaves. Keep an eye on your plant for any signs of aphid comeback. You can reapply the mixture every week or so until those aphids are gone.
A word of caution — Before spraying, check your milkweed for any butterfly caterpillars and gently remove them to safety. Spray the oil during the early morning or late evening, when our winged friends are less active. We want to keep the oil and butterflies on good terms!
– Brush Them Off
A detail brush goes a long way when fighting a small-scale infestation. It’s like giving the aphids a little nudge away from their hangout spot. The brush is effective, as it can help you reach all those nooks and crannies, leaving no hiding place unattended. This is a great option, if the infestation has been growing and you want to save your plant before it’s too late.
Coffee grounds can be of help too, so all you should do is get to sprinkle them around the milkweed plants as a form of a magic ground barrier. Aphids might aren’t fans of this aromatic defense. Opinions are divided on how effective this coffee trick is, but yet again, you must remember that this is worth the shot, depending on the size of the infestation.
– Use a Sacrificial Milkweed Patch
As your milkweed patches grow and mature, try mixing things up a bit. Plant different species of milkweed and scatter them around your yard. Aphids are creatures of habit, and they’ll likely have a favorite plant, which allows you to create a sacrificial patch, just for the aphids to enjoy. It’s like giving them their very own small piece of cake, while the rest of your garden remains safe and sound.
More milkweed varieties mean more potential allies against those aphids. Milkweed is capable of attracting butterflies, ladybugs, and hoverflies too, so the more the merrier!
– Companion Plants
Did you know some plants have a special superpower for aphids? Take onions and marigolds, for example – they’re perfect aphid repellents! Strategically plant these guardians close to your milkweed, and create a natural barrier.
When these allium beauties stand tall in your garden, those aphids think twice before invading your milkweed. In short, they will beautify your garden, but also, they will release the aroma that the pests will repel from. You must also have in mind how the armed with the power of nature’s own repellents, your milkweed will become a haven for butterflies, while those aphids will keep out.
– Cut Them Out
When those pesky aphids have taken over large parts of your milkweed, it’s time to go into action. Grab those gardening shears and start cutting back areas with moderate and heavy infestations.
Make sure to toss the cuttings far away from your garden. No more aphid mischief allowed. Now, about those sneaky oleander aphids and their winter plans – it’s a bit of a mystery! That’s why cutting back the infested milkweeds in late summer might just be the secret to avoiding an aphid invasion next season.
– Vacuum Them
Some gardeners suggest using vacuum cleaners to suck the pests away from the plants. Amazingly enough, it has proven to work on multiple occasions, leaving the plants with a smaller, more manageable aphid population. Why not give it a go? Just make sure you use that micro attachment for a precise action.
Aphids are not just plant devourers — they are disease carriers too! So, if you want to keep your milkweed plants happy and healthy, you need to keep an eye out for these invaders.
Dealing with aphids on milkweed may seem like a challenge, but armed with these useful tips and strategies, you can take back control of your garden! Let’s remind ourselves of the most important steps:
- From manual removal to attracting beneficial insects, you have a range of eco-friendly methods to combat aphid invasions. Just be mindful of our beloved Monarch caterpillars and eggs, ensuring their safety as you take on those tiny troublemakers.
- Embrace the power of nature’s defenses, like companion plants and neem tree oil, to keep your milkweed flourishing and inviting for butterflies.
- Don’t forget about the magic touch of onion and marigold guardians, forming a natural barrier against aphids. Remember, identifying these pesky aphids early on is crucial, and once you spot them, it’s time to act fast.
- If you find yourself in the midst of a heavy infestation, don’t hesitate to cut back and dispose of the affected areas far away from your garden.
- You can also experiment with the power of suction using a vacuum cleaner — a surprising yet effective approach!
So, gear up and face the aphid challenge head-on! Your milkweed plants and the majestic butterflies will thank you for creating a thriving and harmonious garden.
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