Swan plant sagas

Seen at work in my garden this week …

Ladybirds attack a patch of oleander aphids. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Here’s what you need to know about these yellow aphids and yes, that is a swan plant they’re on. I had been using digital control until I saw a ladybird or two about and reckoned I needed to back off to let my spotty helpers take charge.

This article has some ideas about how to control aphids on milkweeds (which a swan plant is) and not upset eggs or caterpillars.

Unfortunately, ladybirds will also eat butterfly eggs and young caterpillars … aargh. The poor butterflies can’t win, although in better news last evening I saw two FAT caterpillars munching away on the swan plant so some eggs are surviving.

Here’s a great few photos of a monarch’s life cycle by George Novak, a Bay of Plenty Times/freelance photographer who loves photographing the natural world. George was responsible for some of the brilliant native orchid photos in NZ Geographic (November-December 2013).

I’ve also found yellow aphids on the growing tips of two hoya plants, but they are easily controlled by squashing.