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Article: Milkweed Dreams - Growing Milkweed: Love the milkweed, but those aphids. . .

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Forum: Article: Milkweed Dreams - Growing MilkweedReplies: 5, Views: 71
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Mackinaw, IL
(Zone 5a)

December 13, 2008
5:15 AM

Post #5886949

Mine were just coated with aphids, and I never did find a butterfly-friendly way of getting rid of the little buggers. Tried the spraying with water, and even wiping them away with cotton balls (ugh, not something I have time to do repeatedly) but to no avail.

Any suggestions?

Lindsay, OK
(Zone 7a)

December 15, 2008
2:45 PM

Post #5893559

Angie -

Neem oil - try Neem oil spray for the plants.
North, TX

December 15, 2008
3:00 PM

Post #5893603

Well, on the good side of milkweed being a host and attracting aphids: the aphids will eat of the milkweed instead of other plants (as a sacrifice plant) and also attracts other good bugs looking to eat the aphids. I beleive the monarch butterfly seeks the milkweed as a place to lay because the larvae eat the aphids... but can't find where I read that?? I know that the milkweed is a fav to the monarch and maybe you could just put your milkweed away from other plants that you may not want the aphids attacking.
Mill Hall, PA

December 15, 2008
7:49 PM

Post #5894539

There are many predator insects that will eat the aphids. I would not use any type of pesticide as you would kill the monarch caterpillars and butterflies. Continue with a strong spray of water to knock them off or "ugh" kill them by hand.
Pittsburgh, PA

May 16, 2009
6:29 PM

Post #6556684

Angie (and everyone),

To elaborate on the response by qbs, the predator insects are definitely the way to go, and they're easy to acquire. Ladybugs love to eat aphids and other small insects. Praying Mantids REALLY love aphids, and really do a number on other insects as they mature & grow. Adults are even capable of eating Japanese Beetles, which is a huge bonus. Many nurseries will carry ladybugs, and some have the Mantids eggs. You can also order them online from a number of sources. has both, and they're inexpensive. It's a much greener way to go, and a great experience if you get a chance to see the baby Mantids before they go a-huntin'!

This year, I ordered some milkweed plants to put in our yard as I read a tragic story about a massive die-off that occurred due to a winter storm in Mexico earlier this decade ( The butterfly community is urging people to assist in rebuilding their population by providing host plants (milkweed) & nectar-producing flowers for their migration.

So unfortunately, the plants I ordered came with unwanted passengers in the form of aphid eggs and it wasn't long before they were infested. I was going out of town for a week, and didn't have the timing right to order ladybugs online. I went to my local nursery and bought Praying Mantids eggs and put them with the plants (the lady at the nursery thought they would hatch any day). Well, they didn't hatch in time, and now my milkweed plants aren't doing so well. I hope I can revive them.

On a good note, the Mantids are starting to hatch, and it's remarkable to see how small they are when they come out of the eggs. I was lucky to see a few, as they usually emerge unnoticed. So now my yard will be well-populated with ravenous soldiers to protect my plants.

One thing to keep in mind - if you buy Mantids eggs, stage them far apart in your yard because if they're too concentrated in one area when they hatch and don't have enough food, they will eat each other. Brutal! Outside of that, they are truly a garden's best friend and fascinating to watch in action.

Good luck with your gardens this year, and bring on the Monarchs!


This message was edited May 16, 2009 1:31 PM


Mackinaw, IL
(Zone 5a)

May 18, 2009
11:59 PM

Post #6567248

I was lucky enough to find a batch of baby mantids in my shasta daisies last year. It was just incredible to see them line up along the edges of all the leaves! And luckily, the potted daisy was located right next to my roses, so most of them moved on to hunt the nasty little aphids on my roses all summer. Every time I saw one last year, I wondered if it was one of the little babies I'd seen hatch. I even occasionally wondered if the friends who had given the daisies to me as a gift had intentionally included a mantis egg case--we taught preschool together, and they knew my fascination with hatching butterflies and gardening.

Anyway, if you've never seen mantid hatchlings, you don't know what you're missing. They are tiny, but so perfectly formed when they hatch. My kids ran for the magnifying glasses immediately!

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Other Article: Milkweed Dreams - Growing Milkweed Threads you might be interested in:

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