+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

4 Answers 4


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.

  • 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
    Commented Jul 25, 2014 at 21:46
  • @stormy do frogs control aphids?
    – J. Musser
    Commented Jul 28, 2014 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
    Commented Jul 29, 2014 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
    – kevinskio
    Commented Jul 29, 2014 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
    Commented Jul 30, 2014 at 5:12

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:


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).


One part rubbing alcohol combined with two parts water in a small spray bottle is nearly instant death to all aphids. Use it all the time.

  • can you add more details such as how often you apply the spray? Also, does it kill the aphids or makes them go elsewhere?
    – JStorage
    Commented Jul 3, 2017 at 19:45

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.