My milkweed is often overrun by aphids. Does milkweed in the wild have the same problems and how, possibly, is it naturally controlled?
First off, thank you for giving me the opportunity to inform people about the correct thing to do with their milkweed in the fall. Right now, we should cut the milkweed down as we need to encourage the monarchs to migrate. If we leave the butterflies and larvae a food source, they will stay and will most likely die when cold weather returns. In addition, if we leave the milkweed in bloom, it has a higher chance of developing the virus which ultimately kills the monarchs. This virus causes deformities and does not allow the monarchs to spread their wings and fly. So, please consider cutting the milkweed down and throwing the tops away. We will have plenty of opportunities to have more milkweed and butterflies next year.
To answer your original question – yes, native or wild milkweed do get aphids and we either spray them with a water hose to knock them off or let the beneficial insects reduce the populations for us. Of course, I take great pleasure in smashing them one by one with my fingers. Now, I know it sounds cruel, but I have no warm place in my heart for the plant sap-sucking little pests. One other important thing to know – we never recommend applying any type of pesticide on our wildflowers as we need to protect native pollinators (bees, butterflies, wasps, etc.).