Q • The stems of my milkweed are lined in little bugs, must I be anxious?

The bugs you are looking at are probably aphids. They appear in multiple hues, usually eco-friendly, red or brown, are tear-fall formed and have two unique tail-like protrusions on their hind facet.

The sight of bugs coating our vegetation can be unsettling, but aphids are easily managed. A sharp blast of drinking water with a hose can dislodge them, and the insects wrestle to return to their perch. A cotton swab dipped in isopropyl liquor can also be applied to kill them on contact. Huge populations can be sprayed with a horticultural soap or oil. Repeat each individual two to a few days to assure small populations do not reestablish by themselves.

Alternatively, if your plant is unbothered by aphids, simply depart them be. Their presence will help to draw in valuable bugs such as ladybeetles. Aphids are a veritable buffet for these predators, and little aphid populations can create a lender of natural pest control that will feed on other pests after they clear up your aphids.

Generate to the Missouri Botanical Garden’s Middle for Household Gardening at [email protected] or the Horticulture Response Assistance, 4344 Shaw Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63110.