Growing and Protecting Your “Milkweed”!!!!
Growing and Protecting Your “Milkweed”
By Matilija Bob
Milkweed or Asclepias is the food plant for monarch and queen butterfly caterpillars. Monarch caterpillar season runs from about half of spring, skips summer, then runs from mid-fall through mid-winter. The second half of the season is much longer with many, many more butterflies laying their eggs. So, you need to “grow” those milkweed plants so they’ll have lots of food to eat.
But, but, but, during this growing period aphids will find your milkweed plants and can virtually eat them to the ground. What to do? You don’t spray them with pesticides because you’ll poison the plants for the caterpillars ….ok so then what? You can try ladybugs and if you can keep a few on the plants they will eat all the aphids then fly away. This process is somewhat of a slow one and lots of damage can result. You can try all sorts of other things but what do we do and why? What I do is mix a bit of dish soap (1 oz. soap / gallon of water) and spray them. Even very diluted dish soap will kill the aphids fairly fast and not poison the plants. I’ve tried other things (alcohol – cooking oil- neem oil) this is easiest for me and best of all works!
Take a look at the pictures below. The first picture show a pretty health invention of aphids on one of our milkweed plants. The second picture shows the same milkweed plant 1 day later after being sprayed with dish soap/water combination (actually we used 1/2 oz. / gallon just to test a lower dosage seems to work fine but might have to apply more thickly).
Just one day after spraying most of the aphids are gone. Some are left but they are dead (black).
Cheap, safe, and best of all – works!