Jan LeVesque is not alone in her exasperation at the hands–rather, mouth parts–of plant sucking aphids. Anyone who raises milkweed in an effort to attract Monarchs is familiar with the soft-bodied, squishy orange insects that seemingly take over anything in the Asclepias family.
Jan, like many before and after her, posted the above query on the Monarch Watch DPLEX list, an old school listserv that goes to hundreds of citizen and professional scientists and butterfly fans who follow the Monarch migration. And as usual, the community had plenty of ideas.
But before we explore how to kill them, let’s take a look at the interesting life cycle of these ubiquitous, annoying insects, known as oleander aphids, milkweed aphids, or by their Latin name, Aphis nerii.
First off, they are parthenogenic, which means they clone themselves and don’t require mates to reproduce. In addition, the clones they produce are always female. Yes, that’s right–all girls. “No boys allowed.”