Butterfly weed - Knowledgebase Question

kissimmee, Fl
Avatar for lady34744
Question by lady34744
June 30, 2010
I planted some beautiful butterfly weed, and have noticed some yellow things on them similar to aphids. I bought a spray to treat aphids and have applied it 3 X in the past few weeks. The problem has gotten worse. What can I do?

Answer from NGA
June 30, 2010
That sounds like milkweed aphids, also called oleander aphids, Aphis nerii. You can control them by first blasting them off the plants with a strong spray of water. You might need to do this daily, making sure you get underneath and between leaves where the aphids may be lurking.

I always start with the simplest method first, and if that isn't successful, move on from there. The insecticidal soaps are made from plant-derived fatty acids and target soft-bodied insects. There's really no way you can target the bad guys without fallout on the good guys. If you can regularly monitor and tolerate some damage to your plants, over time Mother Nature strikes a balance, with the beneficials coming in to control the bad guys. Healthy vigorous plants will withstand insect attacks best, and it's really the best thing you can do to provent insect problems.

Ladybugs and their larvae, green lacewing larvae and other beneficials are voracious eaters of aphids. They often "arrive" a week or two after the aphids, so not spraying with chemicals is a good idea if you'd like to attract them to your garden to consume aphids for you. Good luck!

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