If you’ve noticed a colony of unsightly yellow aphids on one of your milkweed plants, you’re probably concerned. Although many types of Asclepias bounce back from an aphid attack, some are very sensitive to an aphid infestation. Unlike relatively harmless orange-red-and-black milkweed bugs, some aphids also transmit plant viruses, so you were right to look up how to get rid of aphids on milkweed.
Aphids attach themselves to the bottom of leaves, sucking at plant sap with their mouthparts. These fast-reproducing critters release a sticky sweet waste product known as honeydew, which sometimes develops into a black fungus called sooty mold.
When aphids nibble away at milkweed plants, they’re damaging the only food source of monarch larvae from their first instar, or development phase, right through to their fifth and final instar. Scientists and conservationists alike express concern about the declining population of the beautiful monarch butterfly.
- Easy Methods for Getting Rid of Aphids on Milkweed
- Manually Remove Orange Aphids on Milkweed
- Hose Down Your Aphid-Infested Milkweed Plant
- Use Neem Oil as a Home Remedy for Aphids on Milkweed
- Repel Aphids with Essential Oils
- How to Kill Aphids on Milkweed using Garlic
- Kill Aphids on Milkweed using Soapy Water
- Protect Your Asclepias with an Easy Vinegar Spray
- How to Kill Aphids on Milkweed by Sprinkling Diatomaceous Earth
- How to Get Rid of Aphids on Milkweed using Repellent Plants
- Attract Aphids to a Different Part of the Garden with Trap Plants
- Take Advantage of Aphids’ Natural Enemies
- Attract Aphids’ Natural Predators
- How Plants Repel Aphids
Easy Methods for Getting Rid of Aphids on Milkweed
Do your part – and keep your garden looking its best – by protecting your Asclepias against aphids and by planting native plants instead of a variety like tropical milkweed, which can cause monarchs to be infected by a parasite.
In the late summer, you may have the joy of having aphids mate in your garden, meaning that, during the fall or winter, you could find tiny white aphid eggs on milkweed.
If you don’t kill the eggs by spraying diluted dormant oil on them with your hose, the resulting female nymphs will be ready in as little as seven days to produce hordes of milkweed aphids in the springtime.
With their short life cycle leading to rapid population explosions, it’s no wonder that you’re curious about how to kill aphids on milkweed.
Manually Remove Orange Aphids on Milkweed
The most obvious answer is sometimes the best. Wearing a pair of gloves, rub off the aphids from the top and bottom of milkweed leaves. Squishing the pests ensures that they won’t be coming back to bother your common milkweed, or Asclepias syriaca, anytime soon.
Make sure to regularly check the undersides of milkweed leaves, as well as their buds, so that you’ll be able to take advantage of this simple solution. If you don’t notice the aphids until it’s too late, and the aphid infestation gets to be too large, you’re better off trying a different form of pest control.
Hose Down Your Aphid-Infested Milkweed Plant
The best homemade remedy for aphids on roses or any other plant is to use a steady stream of water. The water dislodges the aphids from your milkweed, petunias, tomatoes, or anything else.
Simply hold the plant in place with one hand and point the hose with the other to carry out this effective home remedy for aphids on milkweed.
Before spraying water on your milkweed, it’s essential to check for monarch butterfly eggs and larvae. If you find any, either transfer them to a different milkweed plant or try your hand at raising monarch butterflies inside on a milkweed leaf on a damp paper towel in a closed plastic container.
Use Neem Oil as a Home Remedy for Aphids on Milkweed
Neem oil – the oil of the neem tree – which is available at some hardware and big-box stores, is an easy home remedy for aphids on milkweed. Dilute two teaspoons of the oil in a quart of water then mist the liquid onto your milkweed plants in the early morning via the spray nozzle on your garden hose.
Spray the oil several times if necessary since its effects are not long-lasting. Neem oil is a solid bet if you’re wondering how to get rid of aphids on milkweed.
It also chases away other pests, like mosquitoes, and is a natural remedy for spider mites. What’s more, it does not harm beneficial insects.
Repel Aphids with Essential Oils
Another scent that aphids detest is essential oils. Combine peppermint, thyme, rosemary, and clove oils to repel and even kill those pesky oleander aphids on your milkweed.
It’s worth noting that peppermint oil is sometimes toxic to cats, so avoid spraying it if your garden receives feline visitors. The smell of rosemary also causes cats to turn the other way, but it doesn’t poison them, so you can feel safe employing this essential oil to protect your plants.
How to Kill Aphids on Milkweed using Garlic
The sulfur in this common household ingredient is toxic for aphids and other pests. This garlicky aphid spray also kills beneficial insects, such as lady beetles, so try another strategy if you’re looking to protect the good bugs in your garden.
To get rid of aphids with garlic, soak the minced garlic in the vegetable oil for 24 hours, then strain out the garlic. Combine the oil with the water and dish soap, mixing well, then spray the aphid killer onto the aphids with a spray bottle.
Kill Aphids on Milkweed using Soapy Water
To make an even simpler aphid spray, mix a few tablespoons of either dish soap or insecticidal soap into a pint of water and then fill up a spray bottle. Use this home remedy for aphids on pepper plants as well as your milkweed.
If you’re wondering how to kill aphids on milkweed without also killing beneficial bugs, start by not squirting this solution onto your milkweed plants willy-nilly.
Instead, spray the mixture onto a dish sponge. Carefully wipe the milkweed leaves with the aphid killer, including on the undersides, where aphids love to hide to suck the plants’ sap.
Protect Your Asclepias with an Easy Vinegar Spray
If you are wondering how to get rid of aphids on milkweed, a simple natural option is combining vinegar with water and Castile soap. Like garlic oil and dish soap, this spray targets all insects indiscriminately, so use another method, like neem oil, if you’re trying to attract helpful insects to your garden.
Fill up a spray bottle and squirt a little of this natural aphid killer onto the tops and bottoms of leaves. This home remedy for aphids on milkweed clears pests from Asclepias plants in no time.
How to Kill Aphids on Milkweed by Sprinkling Diatomaceous Earth
If you’re looking to control aphids in a way that does not harm their natural enemies or humans and pets, try diatomaceous earth (DE), a white powder that cuts through aphids’ protective covering.
Sprinkle DE on all plant surfaces and visible aphids, as well as around the base of the milkweed. Make sure not to get any powder on the flowers, because bees are one beneficial insect that DE does harm.
Reapply DE after it rains or every few days if it’s humid. Use this super simple home remedy for aphids on milkweed the next time you spot the tiny pale orange pests clinging to the bottom of milkweed leaves.
How to Get Rid of Aphids on Milkweed using Repellent Plants
It’s possible to make use of a wide range of plants to encourage aphids to leave your milkweed alone, from strong-smelling herbs like oregano, fennel, and dill to members of the allium family, like garlic, chives, and leeks.
Another option is marigolds, which are also among several mosquito repellent flowers. To increase your success, plant several species near the milkweed plants, as well as throughout your garden, to keep your garden aphid free.
This natural solution has the benefit of adding to your garden’s fragrance and beauty and even producing ingredients for you to use in your kitchen.
Attract Aphids to a Different Part of the Garden with Trap Plants
Some plants specifically attract aphids, so they’re an excellent option to draw these pests away from your milkweed plants, leaving them healthy for monarch caterpillars to enjoy. Plant nasturtiums or sunflowers a decent distance from your milkweed plants.
The good news is that sunflowers, in particular, survive aphid infestations just fine. Once the aphids have made their way to one of the trap plants, spray them with a natural aphid killer without damaging your milkweed plants.
Take Advantage of Aphids’ Natural Enemies
Some aphid predators also target monarch eggs and larvae, so before deciding to implement this solution, do your research and consider your priorities for your garden. Check out this fact sheet from Utah State University about the numerous natural aphid predators.
Ladybugs are one of the most famous insects that target aphids. If you buy these beautiful critters from a garden center, make sure to release them in the evening, because they’ll fly off during the daytime.
Among pollinators, the larvae of the syrphid fly or hoverfly are eager aphid eaters, while parasitic wasps, true to their name, lay eggs inside aphids. Lacewings, meanwhile, are general predators that enjoy munching on aphids.
Attract Aphids’ Natural Predators
You may be wondering how to persuade these aphid eaters to come to your garden. Besides ladybugs, insects like parasitic wasps and lacewings are available from garden centers or online. Ladybugs and lacewing eggs even store well in the fridge until you’re ready to use them.
If you’re not interested in purchasing predator bugs, it’s possible to attract them to your garden with their favorite plants. Parasitic wasps enjoy parsley, while lacewings are drawn to flowers like Queen Anne’s Lace, and ladybugs make a beeline for plants like dill and marigold.
You couldn’t purchase syrphid fly larvae if you wanted to, but tempt these eager aphid eaters to your garden by planting flowers like alyssum or herbs like oregano.
How Plants Repel Aphids
In addition to attracting aphids’ predators, companion plants use several methods to repel aphids. Strong-smelling plants, like chives, give off a smell that aphids find nasty and disguise the scent of the plants that you wish to protect.
Some plants, like marigolds, change the biochemistry of potential aphid host plants so that the pests no longer find them appealing.
Alliums, such as chives and garlic, even affect aphids’ behavior and disrupt their reproduction cycle. Planting a variety of plants ensures that you target aphids on several fronts by both repelling them and attracting their enemies.
You may be interested in achieving aphid-free status for your milkweed for any number of reasons. Maybe the sight of these critters crawling all over your poor milkweed makes you cringe, maybe you’re concerned about the spread of plant viruses, or you’re passionate about protecting monarch butterflies.
Whatever your motivation for researching how to get rid of aphids on milkweed, you now have tools in your toolbox for getting rid of aphids on milkweed plants. You know how to manually remove a small aphid colony, repel aphids with a spray or pungent plants, and attract aphids’ predators to your garden.
Soon, your garden will once again be bursting with the vivid orange of butterfly weed, aka Asclepias tuberosa, or with the lovely purple-pink of swamp milkweed, aka Asclepias incarnata.
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