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Photos & text by Albert Brian Vick,  Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, Community Kitchen Garden Coordinator

Grant Howell – head butterfly honcho for the Butterflies LIVE! exhibit at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden – was unhappy to see a swarm of yellow aphids attacking a milkweed plant being groomed for the butterfly habitat. It wasn’t all gloom & doom, because Grant’s trained eyes spotted a string of lacewing eggs, along with a few adult lacewings. The lacewing larvae have a voracious appetite for aphids. Grant’s next concern will be ants, because ants enjoy the honeydew produced by aphids – to the extent that the ants will defend the aphids by consuming the lacewing eggs.

Yellow aphids on a milkweed plant. Sure, the yellow color looks cool against the bright green foliage, but aphids are awful, nasty pests.

Leila Hermes holds a milkweed leaf for us to see the tiny lacewing eggs dangling from silky strands.

Leila points out a brown lacewing adult, while Grant’s yellow tinted fingers bear the evidence of yellow aphid removal.

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2 Responses to “Lacewings to the Rescue”

  1. Mikael says:

    Did you manage to get rid of them? When the ants come marching in you can spend on your time trying to kill them (an not be successful) :)

    Regards,
    Mikael

  2. Grant says:

    Mikael,
    We have not gotten rid of our aphids. As most gardeners may know aphid elimination is virtually impossible without chemical assistance. The butterfly staff cannot use chemicals on our milkweed because these will be placed in the exhibit to provide host material for Monarch caterpillars. Ants have not moved in and we are doing our best to keep from an aphid population “explosion”. Every morning I take out my frustrations with the world on these aphids.
    G

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