Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Aphids and Milkweed

>>>>Please Help,  My milkweed is infested with aphids and there is caterpillars on the plant. What do I do? I have a 2500 square foot butterfly garden and the aphids are only on the milkweed.  I need to feed monarchs that are in my 4 foot square butterfly cage also.<<<<

Aphids are a nightmare! When they first start and you don't think they can do much damage but they can destroy the growing tips of milkweed and oleander plants.  The milkweed/oleander aphid is not native to the US and give live birth - without mating.  From what we understand, there are ZERO males of this species in the wild in the US.

It is said that when aphids are not available, however, that some aphid predators will eat Monarch and Queen young caterpillars.

There are many natural predators but of course they don't keep them under total control.  Green lacewings, hover flies, and lady bug nymphs are only a few of their natural predators. 

Insecticidal soap or Malathion can kill aphids.  We highly recommend removing caterpillars from the plants before treating the plants.  Cover the plants with a sheet for 1/2 hour, remove the sheet, and rinse thoroughly.  After a thorough rinse, the caterpillars can be safely returned to the plants. 



  1. I fry my aphids with a wave of a long lighter. It doesn't hurt the plant, but the aphids sizzle.

  2. I just saw your post, Stacey. 2 years later and I still love this method. I can't seem to get the hang of it; burned the poor plant a bit. But it's a great idea to throw in when someone is really struggling and they don't want to use any soaps or chemicals on the milkweed plants.