Beneficial Insect Information
Learn more about the beneficial insects out in your garden and how to identify them. The Earthwise Guide to Beneficial Insects is an online publication that provides a great overview of conserving beneficial insects in your landscape, including some helpful photos to aid in identification.
Favorite or New Plant
The easy-to-grow tropical milkweed (Asclepias curassavica) thrives in full sun to part shade and is tolerant of dry to wet soil conditions. It belongs in every butterfly garden as it is a favorite food source for caterpillars of Monarch and Queen butterflies. Adult butterflies are attracted to the clusters of orange and yellow blooms that are produced from spring to fall. A cultivar with yellow flowers is also available. This plant is a reseeding annual in zone 8 and above, and a perennial in zone 9 and 10. The upright, 2- to 3-foot-tall growth habit makes it a natural for fitting in among other taller annual and perennial flowers. This milkweed attracts a yellow aphid that does little damage but that does attract several species of beneficial insects, including ladybugs, lacewings, syrphid flies, and parasitic wasps. I suggest leaving them be to help boost beneficial insect populations around your landscape. However, you can wash off the aphids with a blast of water or spray them with a soap or horticultural oil spray.