A fellow gardener/blogger (Linda at Southern Rural Route) mailed me some seed packets a few months ago, one filled with rain lily seeds and another filled with milkweed seeds. They were both from her garden so it is nice to know I have a little piece of Florida right on my front porch (and, because milkweed is the food source for monarch caterpillars, I am hoping to add to the butterfly population).
I have never grown milkweed before and I didn’t do much research on it, only looking up when and where and how to plant. So when I started seeing little yellow dots on the stems of my seedlings, I figured they were part of the plant. I even stared at them for minutes at a time some mornings trying to convince myself they were actually bugs, but they never moved so I assumed all was okay.
Over the weekend, I decided to take a really good look at them from a different perspective: my camera’s super close-up lens. And yes, those things have legs! They are yellow aphids (or Oleander aphids) and are definitely not part of the plant. Silly me – always trust your instincts. Or at least Google.
After researching a little more on aphids (gee, you think I would have done this last month), I learned that ladybugs are the aphid’s natural predator. I couldn’t adopt that gorgeous little schnauzer at PetSmart this weekend, so Monday morning I decided to adopt approximately two thousand ladybugs.
It was overcast enough that the gardeners at my local nursery said I wouldn’t have to wait for dusk to release them. I’m not quite sure of the reason why and, judging by my past record, I will probably not research this either. I just did as the experts told me to do and released the ladybugs around 10am with gray skies and a cold wet chill in the air. They all seemed very excited to get out of the bag.
I scattered them all over my “problem site” (the aphids-infested milkweed seedlings) and since I had seen ladybugs in my passion flowers many times before, I decided to put quite a few of them on the vine, too, as well as on my lavender, lamb’s ear, and cockscomb. I would seriously hate to have brought home thousands of ladybugs for my benefit only to have them find something better over at the neighbor’s house.
When I put it that way, it sounds almost adulterous.