Before I start this post, here is an important disclaimer. I am not someone you should take advice from regarding aphids. I don’t know much about the life cycle of aphids, I don’t know much about their potential to cause damage to crops or other plants, and I don’t know anything about whether or not you should control aphids in your garden/farm/prairie. Ok? Ok.
I think aphids are among the most interesting looking creatures in prairies. I’ve also found them very tricky to photograph. First, of course, they’re stinking small, which adds a degree of difficulty. Second, they usually appear in big herds (which I assume is the proper term for a large number of aphids – please don’t tell me otherwise), and it’s hard to decide where to focus. Regardless, I keep trying to photograph them because they’re just awfully cute. One of these days maybe I’ll get an image I’m actually satisfied with.
The milkweed plants in our backyard prairie garden often have pretty big herds of aphids roaming around them, especially by late summer. Maybe I should be upset or worried about that, but I’m just not. I’m not trying to make money from those milkweed plants, and I’m not hoping to eat them. Sure, I’d be pleased if monarchs laid their eggs on them, but I have the plants mainly because I enjoy looking at them, and I enjoy seeing what kinds of little creatures I can find on and around them.
I hear that some kinds of aphids can be really problematic on some kinds of garden and farm crops, and I don’t doubt that. I harbor no ill feelings toward people trying to control the population of aphids on crops. However, in the prairies I work with, and in our family’s prairie garden, aphids are welcome. I enjoy watching ants farming aphids, I like the different colors of aphids I find, and I like the fun little spikes coming out of their butts.
If you’re waiting for some kind of profound or pithy statement on the ecological value or impact of aphids, you’re not going to get it from me. I just like aphids, and as I was trying to figure out what image or images to use for this Photo of the Week post, I stumbled across a few recent shots of aphids. Did I mention how cute they are?