It’s that time of year again, the oleanders that make up much of the desert landscape are starting to grow and bud, but some of you are noticing something odd: little, yellow dots on the leaves, buds and pods.
These yellow dots are bugs, aphids actually.
The oleander aphid is typically found in warm climates like Arizona, California and Florida.
They are a golden yellow with tiny black legs and some have wings. Entire colonies can be found on an oleander plant, which tends to really creep out some newcomers to the region!
Rather than overwhelm you with scientific jargon about mating habits and genetic disposition I’ll let you in on the important stuff:
- Oleander aphids can also be found on citrus and milkweeds.
- The aphids eat the sap from the host plant and oleanders have lots of it. The sap is extremely poisonous to humans and pets (including horses) so be careful when handling clippings, seeds and flowers.
- For the most part, the damage these little pests create is aesthetic, but large colonies can stunt the plant’s growth in spots. It is best to try to get rid of the colonies as you see them.
aphis_neriiOleander aphids love the tender new shoots, so start there first for getting rid of them.
Insecticidal soaps are effective but if you prefer something more natural, just a bit of dish soap and water in a spray bottle should do the trick.
Spray down the infected plant generously and leave the soapy water on for an hour.
Spray it off with a strong blast from your hose.
Check back in a few days and if there are still aphids, repeat the process.
In my own yard 80% of the aphids are gone by the first process and all are eliminated by the second spray a week later.