Q.  Remind my wife and me why we should prune the foliage and blooms back on the tropical milkweed and also not kill the aphids on the tropical milkweed?

A. It is still unclear whether tropical milkweed should be allowed to continue to produce foliage and blooms after the native milkweeds have declined for the year.  Some naturalists believe that the availability of tropical milkweed foliage and blooms late in the growing season in areas such as Central Texas encourages Monarch butterflies to stay in the area rather than finish their migration to their wintering grounds in Mexico.  The delay means they are likely killed by the cold weather. It is also a contention of some researchers that letting the milkweed foliage linger results in growth of microorganisms that hurt the Monarchs.  Concerning the aphids, I think it is best to just let them alone. Some will be eaten by lady bugs and other predators, but the remaining aphids will not have a major effect on the Monarchs.  The milkweed is in place only for the benefit of the Monarchs. 

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