I will let the butterflies out once ready so they won’t be put off laying eggs on the plants by any aphid-busting methods and I also won’t be needing to grow new plants from the infested milkweed. I have a pretty big aphid problem that I thought I had under control but they seem to be back. I’m going to try and put a few alium bulbs around the milkweed patches this Fall and see if it will help keep the aphids at bay next year. good luck! Remove all caterpillars & use your hose on high pressure to spray them directly. However, when you’re starting out and have a limited milkweed supply sometimes you must take action unless you’re willing to wait until next season…which many aren’t! You could also cut of the heaviest infested areas and discard…good luck! You can see the gardening book, raising book, and bundle listed here: I find that if I plant Milkweed in different areas of my back yard, the aphids don’t ruin them all at the same time. In my area egg laying is in over production, so I’m especially careful. I do not know as of yet if the curassavica will die back or just hang on through the winter. I also had an almost overwhelming infestation of aphids which I didn’t catch in time because I was away on vacation. These little guys thrive in heat. But! 12 Good Ideas for Keeping Milkweed Aphid-free…and 1 Bad One! I am getting red and black bugs all over my milkweed. The aphids are all the way down to the dirt on some plants. You note that the aphids can dampen the seed production of milkweed — I have to admit I see that as sort of a system of checks and balances. The oleander aphid (Aphis nerii), sometimes called the milkweed aphid, is a common pest of milkweed plants. Hi all, I recently tried using “FIT Organic Fruit and Vegetable Wash” that I purchased at Costco. I have noticed that the leaves on my plants are narrower than my neighbors but nothing else. I noticed several tiny eggs so I will not spray the bush anymore but instead, once a day, I use a cotton swab to rub off the aphids. However since the aphids were not affected, the next day I started spraying the plant with 2tsp soap to16oz water. I heavily doused them with dish soap this afternoon and they seemed to have died immediately. This year, we had about 15 outside and it seems like they are slowly disappearing. The eggs are pretty small Kathy…about as small as the head of a pin. Unfortunately, the mosquito spraying in your region can wreak havoc on the ecosystem and that can keep the numbers down. Should I just pull the plants out and start over or will the plant recover and regrow itself? Hope this helps…. Someone also said to pour hydrogen peroxide on the roots and it would kill the fungus, but all that did was cause my plant to turn yellowish and I believe it is dying. I also purchased 2 milkweed plants and put those inside the cage as well. When I started my butterfly garden two years ago, my only source for Asclepias was online (I live in the boondocks!). Hi Jennifer, that’s good a mantis is keeping the aphid population down, but keep in mind they also eat monarchs, so I wouldn’t recommend adding more for biological pest control…. This is a great website and I love to see others encourage monarchs and milkweed. Carefully pour the solution into a handheld sprayer. Re the aphids: Check daily. Last year I hatched and shared over 100 from my yard. Here’s another method of removing the aphids: I used small pieces of clear packing tape with great success. I just want to say that this is the first year I have used marigolds and onion plants (like the kind you can eat) in my milkweed patches and have had significantly less aphids than in the past. The plants will have a couple weeks of no spray before i plant them outside when the weather warms up here in the northeast. There’s not a lot you can do when there’s eggs/caterpillars on the plants unless you want to remove them to raise indoors. I have also seen these same wasps eating the catapillars. do you know what insect/ butterfly lays dark grey ovoid eggs? Plants are in full sun and are lightly watered once a week. December 2019 I suggest using a yard waste can if you have one. I will check on it tomorrow; hopefully that did the trick. Unfortunately one plant was covered is these horrible little insects. I haven’t seen any butterfly eggs yet, but have a few monarchs that visit. I tried spraying my plants with DEET to possibly kill aphids and prevent further infestation. I usually try wiping them down with my fingers and hosing them off. Native milkweed typically looks pretty bad by the end of the season, so your milkweed may be at the end of its growth cycle. 🙂, Thanks for sharing your experience Melanie. I put out some swamp milkweed seeds last fall, and kept some others in the refrigerator and grew them in peat pots this Spring. This brilliantly efficient method of reproduction, says Featured Creatures, is one of the reasons “large colonies of oleander aphids…build quickly on infested plants.” However, the seeds I collected that season gave me a better indicator of milkweed health…only 20% of those seeds sprouted the next season! I am in south central FL trying my hand at growing milkweed for the first time. I went away for a week or so, and the aphids had completely taken over one of my two areas of milkweed. A few cats died in the cage leaving a telltale thread and then I had to freeze a several pupae because they were discolored. Hopefully one or more of the methods listed will help you keep them manageable…good luck! I left 5 cats outside and to date 3 of them have eclosed and become butterflies! The leaves turned yellow and dropped off…as if the plant was dying. As your garden evolves, hopefully more of the aphids predators start to patrol it. There’s over 4400 species of aphids, about 250 of which are destructive on most common garden plants. 2 flew out of the nest today!!! If I find some data on that I’ll post it here and on my own blog. Especially the common milkweed, asclepias syriaca. The female wasp lays its egg by inserting its ovipositor within the young aphids. I found one more cat for a total of seven. Then tried soap but didn’t rinse it off my plants which turned leaves brown and killed a lot of my blooms. I thought of painting a pair of eyes above it on the garage exterior wall where the hook is (to emulate that moth), then worried about the chemicals. I was stoked!! I cut them off too. California Butterfly Lady, Monika Moore, takes thin strips of banana peels and places them on milkweed stems near buds/blooms where aphids like to congregate…not appealing to aphids! You might trying keeping the eggs and see what develops. (Very good therapy) But watching you vacuuming them off is possibly the funniest darn thing I’ve seen for a while. We’ve had a lot of rain so far so I think the moisture has contributed to the yellowing of the leaves. Should I cut them down and let them start new once they go to seed? When I find 1st or 2nd instar I use a fine artist brush to transfer them to the butterfly house. I found a “dead one” on underside of a leaf and no others. I hope I can find out what they are. One plant looks awful but it doesn’t seem to be bothering the caterpillars who are munching their way through the plant. Hi Jane, check out our pests page for more info: Hi Tony, I have had luck keeping the aphids off of my Tropical Milkweed for the most part, by pinching the bloom buds off as soon as they begin to appear. I can keep my plants going all year. I also agree with your viewpoint on biological pest control, but don’t look at insects/plants as bad/good based solely on native status. Another idea is to educate gardeners about the different milkweed species and cultivars available. The wasps cannot get every one of them. 🙂. I too had aphids and did not want to harm any eggs with soap, alcohol or lady bugs. However birdbaths aren’t cheap. So I tore up several basil leaves and placed them in between the Milkweed leaves and in the soil around each Milkweed plant. I trim back the eaten up plants and regrow. After a couple of days, I noticed many aphids had returned, but upon checking a week or so later, I noticed there were very few. Most species have a pair of tubelike structures called cornicles projecting backward out of the hind end of their body. Hi DJ, some ant species will eat monarch eggs and caterpillars. Hi Brandon, congrats on finding caterpillars. In desperation, I cut the plant right down in hopes it would regrow this year. Pay attention to you population of aphids. They may eventually come back, but very slowly. Thanks for the info! They’re on the one nursery-grown plant I bought, so perhaps she liked it better because it was more mature? Went and got my 50% alcohol and Q-tips and carefully killed all of them. Should I get a magnifying glass to find them? The aphids eat the sap from the host plant and oleanders have lots of it. Oleander aphids can also be found on citrus and milkweeds. I will continue to plant more milkweeds primarily native ones. Do I need gloves? Those dots on the chrysalis look like liquid GOLD! January 2020 It is very mild and a little goes a long way. Hi Gail, I’m in agreement that’s the ultimate goal of a successful butterfly garden. Next year I will be better prepared in many respects for the Monarchs as well as other pollinators. Tomato Leaf Spray Tomato plants, as members of the nightshade family, contain toxic compounds called alkaloids in their leaves. Fortunately, the milkweed came back well this year and I have been on guard. We will have a program and dedicate our “new” butterfly garden at our retirement center. I raise monarchs and have been pretty successful here in Houston but this year the aphids on the milkweed are insatiable. I also want to treat the infested plants as quickly as possible by cutting them back, treating organically, and seeing if I can regrow back into healthy condition. Hi Tony. Hi, I have found that just squishing Oleander aphids with my fingers is sufficient, provided that you catch them early enough on their first occurrence in the spring/summer. The wasp's larva then eats the aphid's insides. July 2018 Swamp usually starts to look a little worse for wear this time of year, though ours has responded well to all the rain. My problem is keeping a good supply of milkweed and the ever present “black death” of some cats. Have I prevented late developing Monarchs from migrating and/or contributed to the OE epidemic? John, the name Milkweed needs to be changed to MilkNEED!!! Great info here!! thanks for your insightful post. People sometimes confuse aphids for monarch eggs, but full grown caterpillars are much larger than aphids…grow to about 2 inches. I figured if it was not harmful to humans it probably wouldn’t hurt my milkweed plants. I mix a spray bottle with a couple of teaspoons of Dawn and fill the rest with water. Of course this is not a perfect solution – but it has worked quite well for me. Check out these posts for more info: Monarch Diseases Monarch Predators Milkweed Diseases, I had cats in my rearing containers indoors. Have you heard anything about this? Okay, so I’m new to this whole milkweed growing. Yes, some people use magnifying glasses to help locate eggs/baby caterpillars. Is there any way to save it? Otherwise, not a good idea to leave on milkweed and host plants. I’m going to go ahead and expand my garden as much as possible, and hope for the best. I’ve begun cutting down the plants as much as I can without disturbing the caterpillars. While we plant several allium spp. I’m not prepared to raise the caterpillars in an enclosure yet, but I’d like to give them the best shot of making it. I do have five outdoor cats that do police the rodents and birds quite well and the occasional insect skirmish. Starting in late September my issues with aphids were higher but managed by clipping bad plant tips, mashing the bugs, and moving caterpillars to less infected plants. I so far have 6 plants which are all Scarlet. Some plants do in North Texas. Hi Marie, I’m glad you were able to rescue the monarchs…spraying soaps or pesticides in the garden can work, but should be more of a last resort…too many possible unintentional consequences. Please let us know how it works for the aphids…. Pay special attention to the undersides of the leaves, because aphids love to hide there. Last year, I planted swamp milkweed for the first time and had a few cats make it to adulthood. The only way you’d ever know is if they were digitally tagged so you could monitor their movement. Please have a look at this website for your beetle – it might be Milkweed Leaf Beetle. Any suggestions? Ants, spiders, wasps to name a few. You have a couple options left to regain aphid control. Hi Doug, any milkweed variety can harbor the OE parasite. 🙂 Thanks for your help! I’m thinking of talking with local borough officials in possibly setting areas apart to grow milkweed and to encourage it’s growth in certain areas where it would not be considered a nuisance. There are conflicting reports as to how effective this is, but it can’t hurt to try. Thanks! Not everyone wants a garden filled with native milkweed that can potentially be invasive with underground rhizomes and seeding. This sounds like a great idea, but I would only recommend this for heavy infestations…don’t destroy your local ecosystem with an aphid-free garden! Do you allow your photos to be used in other media? I appreciate your help and will cut the MW back as soon as these guys take off. What would get to the cats so quickly? Hi Edia, I have not tried the coffee grounds before, but doubtful it will work if you already have an infestation. Now I can safely spray with whatever will work. It wouldn’t hurt for those of us that love the monarch butterfly and want to see their population increase to “spread the word” in our local communities. A good idea for all gardeners is to check your plants regularly. It has been as much fun watching the robins as it is raising Monarchs in the summer!!! I too, as has everybody else growing milkweed has been inundated with oleander aphids. Thanks for the suggestion Brett. Catching aphids at the beginning is key to stopping them. Hi Diane, if you got rid of them entirely, then you did good! Hello, I am new to planting and managing milkweed plants and their aphids. And, if so, how do I combat them? You have to spray each leaf and check the stalk as well. I have two potted milkweed plants which have been inside my home. They came back slowly and I’m really trying to attract Monarchs but have not seen one in this area. It is still early, and our milkweed patches in Minnesota are still lifeless too. 15 minutes later I put the cats back on the plant. They aren’t big enough to pupate yet, and for some I can’t find their bodies anywhere. Thanks in advance! Thanks for all your great help with the Monarchs, Joan Maffei. The best advice I can give you (without knowing for sure what the problem is) is to remove the affected leaves and pods. I was wondering if you could recommend a good companion plant to plant alongside the milkweed in their bed? So my advice is to look at all the plants in your garden you may find as I did that the aphids have strongholds on the weeds in your garden and will come back if they are not eliminated from those plants also. Reduced levels of watering, pruning, and fertilization will reduce the production of tender shoots, the favorite food of oleander aphid. The Oleander Aphid The star of today’s show is the Oleander Aphid ( Aphis nerii ) ( nerii comes from the scientific name for the oleander shrub). Well Sarah, ants MILK them for their sweet secretions, so they just might be ‘finger lickin’ good’! A mild solution of dish soap and water will also work. Starting smashing with fingers but realized I was killing blooms to. Read on to learn what you can do about oleander plant pests. Unfortunately, I have only seen theMonarchs around the plants a couple of times, and I have found no eggs or cats this year. Subsequent infestations throughout the season were small and self-managing, as remnants of predators were established that got the jump on population explosions. I still rub out and spray with water. BRUSH THEM ASIDE: Use a detail brush to brush them off the milkweed plants and get in those nooks and crannies without damaging the plants: 6. GROUND THEM: Those naughty aphids need a time out, so keep them away from their favorite milkweed plants by sprinkling coffee grounds around them. If it’s going to hatch, it should hatch soon. Natural predators of the Oleander Aphid include certain kinds of parasitic wasps, Lady Beetles, Lacewings, and Hoverflies. Any suggestions as to what the problem could be would be welcome. I’m not sure what the milkweed pest is you’re looking for, but try searching google images to see if you can figure it out: http://images.google.com/. Hi Gaye, it was a slow year out east, so that probably has a lot to do with your lack of activity. I have’t seen any lizards on the birdbath milkweed. I was warned the aphids would spread to the rest of my garden. The detergent method worked much better, just had to wait to see the results. After about 5 seconds, he hoses the plant down with water and those pesky milkweed invaders are dead. They fall off easy enough, but will climb right back up. Also, I use cotton swabs…it’s easier to access small spaces. Milkweeds support monarch butterflies, but they are also important for a lot of other specialist insects, which may not be as pretty, but are nonetheless just as tied into the ecology as the monarchs. I only have two left hanging around. The LA Times article you linked to in point (3) said that alcohol is lethal to monarch eggs and larvae. IT WORKED!!! They will straighten out. I hope your monarchs will be OK on the treated plant. Congrats on all your monarchs and good luck keeping those aphids at bay…. It works well and the aphids are under control. I haven’t checked the plants down by the stream yet. The aphids fall off and I have made sure I haven’t started a fire. I’m a new milkweed enthusiast. We have milkweed growing in our school garden, and it’s infested with aphids! You could try spraying just a couple to see if you get any eggs, but I would try some of the ideas in the post if you are having aphid issues. I got about eight plants total. It seemed to kill some, but now especially my milkweed looks worse and downright awful. They don’t stand a chance – not on MY milkweed. Unfortunately, I must have had a monarch mother come by who hadn’t read your post about them avoiding plants with heavy aphid infestations. Woohoo!!! They’re literally eating my butterfly weed like crazy. I put a tich of soap and fill with water and spray away. If seen, I take a wet washcloth and gently wipe them off. I was so happy when I discovered what those brown little dots on my mw plants were! 🐛. I should have started hosing them off early but didn’t get around to it as I have dozens of plants in my backyard. Periodically my various varieties of milkweeds here in S FL become absolutely overrun with aphids. Cal. Should I release a fair distance from our house, a few at a time? Maybe Kirks Castile soap? good luck! Someone I know just told me they interpreted the use of alcohol to mean that it was harmless to the Monarchs and only damaged the aphids. Is it the soil, is it the milkweed, what the heck is causing this? In a humid region like Houston, I can imagine you have to keep a closer eye on this. : Introducing beneficial insects to eat the aphids sounds like a great natural solution, but beneficial bugs like ladybugs and mantids also feed on monarch eggs and larvae. Hopefully you will see some monarchs soon…. Question: are the ants on my yard plants going to be an issue /problem? Works like a charm! I tried the trick with the alcohol a couple of times, but I found that even when I sprayed, counted to 5, and then rinsed thoroughly, the leaves in the treated area would turn brown. It is such a valuable plant to monarchs, that I prize it regardless. Me'Shell Miller going to be Amandah Aster says. Any ideas, suggestions? I pluck the leaves off as soon as I see the purple spots, but now my milkweed is sparse and it still has more fungus showing up. good luck! Hi Sharon, I wouldn’t put egg shells around milkweed plants because monarch caterpillars crawl away from the plants when searching for a place to form their chrysalis. Thanks for everyone’s advice! Tony. https://monarchjointventure.org/resources/faq/aphids-on-milkweed, http://support.milkweedmarket.org/kb/article/359-how-do-i-treat-milkweed-plants-that-have-aphids/, http://nathistoc.bio.uci.edu/hemipt/OleanderAphid.htm. One milkweed plant is covered in aphids, but I also have about 20 caterpillars feeding on the plants. I tried the above-suggested isopropyl alcohol-spraying, then rinsing with water. A few aphids on your milkweed should not be an issue for your monarchs…good luck! Mind you, it’s in the 90’s – 100’s around here. I have a problem I haven’t seen addressed here. Hi Sheila, the monarch eggs turn dark on top before hatching (actually the caterpillar’s head). I will be trying some of the techniques garnered here on my own aphid population.. Hi Linda, A. curassavica has some potential issues in continuous growing regions…it might also be an issue in your region if it keeps the monarchs from finishing their migration. What You’ll Need: • One to two cups of tomato leaves • Two cups of water • A strainer or cheesecloth • Spray bottle To make tomato leaf spray, simply soak one to two cups of chopped tomato leaves in two cups of water. What about the Diatomaceous Earth? What is this? As it turned out all 15 cats turned into roughly 35+ cats! Buy some ladybugs 🐞 too. Little tiny white dots on the underside of the leaf. They may also be eating some aphids, as the plants most accessible to the lizards seem to have fewer aphids. What I discovered is that it is not sufficient to just protect the milkweed plants – there are weeds that can also harbor the Oleander aphids so I began to destroy those plants – they were mainly weeds. Transplanting is best done in early spring before the plants reach 6″ tall and there is too much foliage…larger transplants would need to be cut back so they can focus on root growth…you can also transplant in fall. I hope you are able to rescue lots of monarchs from those flies! Hi Bob, dying while forming the chrysalis is a sign of pesticide exposure (if there is no sign of tachinid fly maggots/pupae) I would not worry about inbreeding unless you’re trying to breed the butterflies yourself. They’re different colors, from beige to yellow to orange. Hi Brad, neem oil is a systemic pesticide…someone posted a photo of what happened to their caterpillars after using neem oil. To make the spray, strain the leaves out of the liquid using cheesecloth or a fine strainer. Since you’ve cut back the affected areas, I would give it a chance…good luck! Rinse and repeat as necessary! Hi, I was wondering if it had to be Dawn dish soap, or would any kind work? I haven’t even planted them in the ground yet & they already have the tiny orange bugs. Hi Alice, thanks for your message and yes, you can use photos on the site for educational purposes as long as you attribute them to the website. Shrubs will form a mounded shape up to 10 feet wide. Upon closer inspection, I found that predatory insects were taking their toll on the infestations. If you are interested in learning about the process I use for a 95% survival rate, you might be interested in Raise the Migration 2 starting in August. They’ll be removed today! 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