PlantFiles is getting a new look! Just in time for spring, we're rolling out a new look for the best online plants database. It will also work with your smart phones and mobile devices, so now you can take it with you on garden center visits or botanical garden tours. Questions or comments? Please post them here.
I have quite a few asclepias and a large, flowering catmint that have been doing quite well until last week. Milkweed bugs appeared, as usual, on the butterfly weed, but not in large enough numbers to warrant concern. Now, however, they've multiplied to the point where THOUSANDS of them are crawling, flying, and mating on the asclepias, the catmint, and on other flowers and shrubs everywhere. The bees and butterflies don't stand a chance against this army, and I haven't used insecticides because I didn't want to harm the good guys and gals. There are WAY too many milkweed bugs to squish, so what can I do to slow down their invasion short of cutting back the plants?
Noticed Ohio was planting tons of milkweeds in the hwy medians, always thot it silly since it draws so many hari kari bugs to the traveling cars, you do need a way - but it's almost impossible to pick and choose bugs like you do plants- feeds on grains (seeds) of the plants, we do have way too many bugs this year. Do you wish to save plants or grow bugs? Good luck, I would kill the bugs, and hope the butterfly's return nex year,
I am glad to know that others are dealing with butterfly weed bug problems as I have had them too. The plants were also infested with aphids and ants were working the aphids. I have not sprayed for the same reason you name, and I, too, cut off the seed pods. I think I have lost one or two plants out of a border of 18.
I have another garden pest which I would like someone to speak to: raspberry fruitworms! The everbearing plants produce berries until frost. This is the first time I have had a serious infestation and I am wondering what to do.
Nobody wants to eat raspberries with tiny little white worms or eat raspberries that have been sprayed with insecticide. Right now, my plan is to take off the nets, no little operation, and let the birds (nature) devour the berries and the worms! I have bought some spray, but it cautions one not to spray if there are flowers because it is toxic to bees. What do you suggest?
Rob Sandford, Richmond, VA
I had a similar problem several years ago, except mine were covered with Asian Lady Beetles. Even the birds wouldn't eat them. I cut down entire plants, sprayed the area with Sevin, and let them grow back the following year. It was painful, but the next year's plants thanked me. If I had to do it again, I'd spray with Sevin in mid-spring and again just before the blossoms open. This year's raspberries have not been plagued by insects, although the drought has taken its toll on their overall health and the size and number of berries. Try posting your question on the fruit forum to see what other experienced gardeners suggest.
1alh1, many gardeners use a container of soapy water to control Milkweed bugs. Shake the bugs off the plant into the container and they die... I use an ice cream bucket filled with warm soapy water as the opening is larger...if there are large collections on the seed pods, I dunk the whole thing over into the bucket...afterwards, I give the plant a quick rinse with the hose. I have used this method to kill dozens of them at once.