September 2014: Oleander Aphid
(with monarch egg)
Who am I?
I am aphid hear me roar! Seriously we are all females. Who needs males? When I mature I don't lay eggs, I lay nymphs -- mini mes that will grow up quickly and make more nymphs. That is why you see us in such huge numbers on your milkweed plants. (An asexual method of reproduction called parthenogenesis.) My daughters are all clones of myself and fertile! We are all very tiny (about 3mm) true yellow bugs.
Where can you find me?
I can be found starting in early summer on milkweed, vinca and some other plants. We coat the stems and suck the juices for lunch. We can be found in all warm to tropical climates.
What do I eat?
Plant juice (sap) preferably on young tender shoots. That is it.
What might eat me?
Ladybugs! We hate lady bugs. But they will never eat enough of us to keep us down. We produce more babies than they can eat. Okay, lacewings, some other fly larvae and a couple of wasps will prey on me and mine as well.
Cool reasons why I am the critter of the month!
- We are all clones of our mothers.
- We are born fertile and able to reproduce almost immediately.
- It is though that there are no males in wild populations.
- We produce a sticky honeydew that will blacken with mold. Not very pretty, but not particularly destructive either.