How to Get Rid of Aphids on Milkweed Plants

Say goodbye to aphids in your garden! Follow these easy tips from a garden expert to take care of aphids on milkweed plants.

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swamp milkweedCourtesy Dale Mangum
A monarch butterfly and caterpillar feeding on swamp milkweed

“My milkweed plants have curly leaves and deformed flowers. What went wrong?” says Susan Nowicki Woodridge, Illinois.

Aphids are a common milkweed pest. They look like tiny yellow specks with black legs and are often found by the dozens clustered near the plant stem. Milkweed aphids suck plant juices and excrete the excess as a clear, sticky substance called honeydew. Their feeding can cause leaves to curl and, in some instances, distort the shape of the flowers.

A black fungus often grows on the honeydew as well. This does not directly harm the plant, but in severe cases it can prevent sunlight from reaching the leaves.

Check out the ultimate guide to growing milkweed for monarch butterflies.

Oleander Aphid (Aphis nerii)JasonOndreicka/Getty Images
A close up of aphids feeding on milkweed

Consider waiting for natural predators like lady beetles, parasitic wasps or green lacewings to move in and eat the pests. Lady beetles have an aphid eating reputation for good reason. Give nature a hand, if needed, by dislodging the aphids with a strong blast of water from the hose. Or you can pick them off by hand. Organic controls like insecticidal soap can be used, but they will harm any monarch eggs and caterpillars you are trying to support.

Next, check out more natural ways to eliminate garden pests.

Melinda Myers
Melinda Myers is a nature and gardening writer whose specialty is attracting wildlife, especially birds, to the garden. She contributes regularly to the magazine Birds & Blooms, and lectures widely on creating gardens that please both human and avian visitors.