Friday, August 15, 2008

Aphids, you win...for now

On a quick stroll past the front flower beds just now, I leaned down to check on the new butterfly weed. In the evening, whenever I water, I usually stop and try to spray off the day's collection of aphids, like I did vigilantly last night. This morning, however, it looked like everyone had returned and brought FRIENDS. Plus, the friends had brought friends, too! Wow, too many aphids to flick off!

Hmmm, what to do? Should I worry? Should I try and completely eliminate the sap-sucking little bugs? Surely, they can't be doing our butterfly weed any good. Right?

Back at my desk, I Googled "butterfly weed, aphids" and quickly came up with input from other gardeners. Here's what one on said: "Don't sweat the aphids, that's one of the great 'uses' of this plant! It does attract aphids, but the aphids don't hurt the plant. In return, the aphids stay off your roses and everything else, and they attract beneficials, such as ladybugs. Since I've had some of these in select areas of my rose bed, I've haven't seen even a hint of aphids on my roses!"

Another gardener identified the bugs as yellow oleander aphids, which called for another Googling session.... The oleander aphid (Aphis nerii) is also called the milkweed aphid. For obvious reasons–it adores feeding on butterfly weed and other milkweeds.

Actually, this bothersome bug is really fascinating. For one thing, there's no such thing as a MALE oleander aphid! Click on the link above and learn more...

In the meantime, what am I gonna do? I guess I'll keep spraying with water and see what happens.

Stayed tuned.

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