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Old 2022-06-01, 12:49   #40
Dr Sardonicus
 
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Feb 2017
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My Columbines and Irises are nearly done. Some of my volunteer Picatee Cosmos and trailing Petunias are blooming. My Penstemons are open. My Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) and Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa) have buds that are showing color. My Mexican Hats and Gaillardias (Western wildflowers) are starting to open.

My other ornamentals (Sunflowers, Zinnias, orange Cosmos, Poppies, Marigolds) are growing well. I have seeding Flowering Tobacco (Nicotiana pennsylvanica) where my initial front-yard Common Milkweed was. I have had to eliminate Common Milkweed from my front yard because it spreads uncontrollably. I now have plenty in my back yard, though!

Also in my back yard, my Wild Quinine (Parthenium integrifolium) is blooming. My other prairie plants are doing well, but don't bloom until later. I have added Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis), Tall Bellflower (Campanula americana, AKA Campanulastris americana), Lance-leaf Coreopsis (Coreopsis lanceolata) and more Missouri Ironweed to supplement my established specimen. My Coreopsis came with buds already formed, and started blooming when I put them in. The flower stalks on one of them were snipped off by rabbits, which left the stalks lying on the ground. The other new additions may not bloom until next year.

My False Sunflower (Heliopsis helianthoides) has done well since I planted it two years ago. It bloomed its first year. It has since been spreading. In honor of its vigorous growth, I massacred the genus name and dubbed it "Heliopolis." It has buds.

But this year, it has come under attack by a heavy infestation of red aphids. I am using a spray bottle of water with a dash of liquid soap to kill them. A lot died and turned black after my first application, but there were more than enough survivors to justify a second application.

For those not familiar, aphids (sometimes called "plant lice") are very small, soft-bodied insects which suck the sap out of plants. They often go for tender areas of new growth. Heavy infestations can wilt, permanently deform, or kill the affected parts. Aphids sometimes also transmit pathogens like viruses.

Aphid infestations increase explosively when females reproduce asexually by parthenogenesis, giving birth to live young. The affected areas quickly become completely encrusted with aphids.

Meanwhile, there is a different kind of aphid attacking my established Missouri Ironweed (Vernonia missurica). Unlike the aphids on my False Sunflower, these are being "farmed" by ants. The ants use a sugary liquid called "honeydew," excreted by the aphids, as food. The soap spray seems to be reducing this infestation rapidly.

Honeydew can accumulate on plant surfaces, providing a medium of growth for "sooty mold." This is commonly seen on trees due to infestations of scale insects.

Last fiddled with by Dr Sardonicus on 2022-06-01 at 12:55 Reason: xinfig topsy
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