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+1 for manual pest control. I just snipped these infected leaves off a butterfly flower plant growing in a bucket in the yard. What are these? (besides now ashes)

Insects and ashes on underside of butterfly flower leaves

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3 Answers 3

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Those are milkweed aphids, Aphis nerii. As kevinsky notes, these can be controlled with soap and water. Below I magnified your image to better view detail, and took a comparison photo from online:

Your aphids:

enter image description here

Someone else's aphids:

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They are aphids which are easily controlled with soap and water. Three applications of soap and water at five to seven day intervals should do the job. They are quite variable in colour. I have seen green, black and orange ones.
Adults can have wings and this is how they spread to other plants. Ants also farm them so controlling them may help as well.

This is a common garden pest, see here for more details.

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I've got tons of ants. This is the first year in a long history of gardening that I haven't seen an aphid. I've also been cultivating frogs... –  stormy Jul 25 at 21:46
    
@stormy do frogs control aphids? –  J. Musser Jul 28 at 4:59
    
Well...they eat the flying insects that become the aphids...and sure, they'd eat aphids! But I think the ants figure keeping their herds under ground around here is a better survival tactic. –  stormy Jul 29 at 2:30
    
@stormy most terrestrial frogs can eat eat what they can reach with their tongue. If an aphid is two feet in the air at the top of a tall plant the frog cannot reach it. Predatory wasps and lady bugs are more common predators for aphids in North America –  kevinsky Jul 29 at 10:14
    
I love frogs, and they help out in the garden. I was commenting that I might have a nice harmony going with the ant, frogs. But that was short-lived. It is powdery mildew season, now. Sigh. –  stormy Jul 30 at 5:12

These look like some kind of aphids to me. It wouldn't hurt to check other nearby plants for these, especially if there are also ants (sometimes ants protect and 'farm' them).

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