Oleander Aphids | Wildlife Wednesday


Oleander Aphids on Matalea

Oleander Aphids on Matalea

Oleander Aphids on Matalea

Oleander Aphids on Matalea

I’ve come to enjoy seeing the oleander aphids in the garden when they colonize the milkweeds and their allies. Of course they also feast on oleanders themselves but I don’t have oleanders so I’ve never seen them colonize on an oleander but then next time I am near one planted in a landscape I’ll give it a look. Oleander aphids are parthenogenic, which means the females basically clone themselves (I’m simplifying here but if you want to delve deeper you can read more here. I did a few papers on parthenogenesis in college on tardigrades and parthenogenesis and found it fascinating!) and can be winged or wingless. It looks like most of the ones in my photos are wingless, though I think I see a few winged ones on the milkweed in the first photo.

The first photo is a milkweed, probably swamp milkweed, but the rest of the photos are from a Matelea gonocarpos, an anglepod vine, that is in the Asclepiadaceae family and naturally started growing in the garden. I’ve left it where it is and it either rambles along the ground or it finds plants to climb nearby as it has done this year. It’ll die back a bit in the winter and comes back gangbusters every year. We have a few other places in the yard that it also occurs along the fence line.

I don’t find oleander aphids to be that pesky of a problem, though if you get annoyed with them on your milkweeds just knock them off with water or you can smoosh them instead of spraying them with a chemical. Honestly, the peskier problem on my milkweed tend to be the milkweed beetle, Labidomera clivicollis. Even the large milkweed bug, Oncopeltus fasciatus isn’t as problematic.

Lately the flower garden has taken a backseat to any work as I’ve been continuing to work in the edible garden on the soil solarization as well as other projects but a closer look through of the flower garden and some much needed attention is due so I’ll be inspecting just what is happening with the life there soon!

One Comment

  • Linda

    Speaking of milkweeds, I received this info from my local NPSoT chapter:

    Tom’s Thumb Nursery on 45th Street in Galveston just received an order of hundreds of quart sized, blooming, Asclepias perennis. They’re selling for $7.99 each and have an additional 20% off till July 6.

    You’re pretty far away, and may have all the milkweed you need (and this may not be the best for your place, anyway). Still, I thought I’d pass on the information. When we had our plant sale, these were gone in 3…2…1…

    I have a couple of photos of lady beetles lunching on these aphids. Those photos were the first time I’d actually seen aphids up close. Interesting. Now I have to go look up tardigrades. A teacher who doesn’t get grades in on time? A variation on the time-traveling Tardis? Inquiring minds want to know!

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