I've got an infestation of oleander aphids on my milkweed plants (A. incarnata and A. tuberosa). They're somewhat unsightly, and all other things being equal I'd want to get rid of them unless they were contributing to the ecosystem in a big way. But my main concern is that the aphids will somehow prevent the milkweed from doing its job of helping monarch butterflies (and to a lesser extent, other non-endangered native species) by harming the milkweed, scaring off the butterflies trying to lay their eggs, or attracting ants which will harm the caterpillars.

I thought about ordering some native ladybugs to eat them, but have read that ladybugs will also eat butterfly eggs given the opportunity. I've got two monarch caterpillars on my butterfly weed plant, but based on the timing I think they're generation III and I don't want to release a bunch of monarch egg predators onto the plants just in time to screw over a potential generation IV in September-October. I thought about waiting until after the monarchs have for sure hatched their last generation before migration and then releasing ladybugs, but I don't know how to control the aphids in the meantime and I don't know if that gives enough time for the ladybugs to do their work either. I also haven't been able to find the specific parasitoid wasp (Lysiphlebus testaceipes) for the oleander aphid for sale online, just a lot of generalist wasps that are listed as targeting other aphid species.

What's the best thing I can do for the monarchs in this situation? Should I do anything at all, or just let nature take its course?

  • 1
    Grow plants that host other aphids, to support the generalist predators all year around. Roses, nasturtiums, etc. Aug 19, 2022 at 2:59

1 Answer 1


Unless your are growing your plants in a greenhouse, I think any predator bugs will be waste of time and money. They will quickly disappear.

Some birds are specialists in eating aphids, and you can try to make your garden attractive to such birds.

Also consider that when aphids get out of control, the main reason is that you (or the nature) have created optimal conditions like a lot of fresh and juice stems and foliage in their preferred hosts.

This source suggests:

The best way to get rid of oleander aphids is through cultural controls. If you reduce irrigation and fertilization, your oleander will produce less of the tender shoots that attract aphids.

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.