The Salad Mix is missing from the online store. What happened to it?
Well….unfortunately, almost all the ingredients have been damaged by aphids. Only the lettuce and spinach leaves remain unharmed.
The cool, rainy weather is ideal for aphids. And ants.
Aphids can do fine on their own. During spring and summer, the females have a reproductive superpower of giving birth to live young without the help of a male aphid. They are very prolific having up to nine babies in one day! And those babies are born already pregnant.
Look closely at the picture below and you will see Mama Aphid has just birthed a baby! While I was taking the photos, I actually witnessed this aphid birth taking place!! I regretted not having my phone in video mode.
During the fall, female aphids mate with male aphids to produce eggs that can survive the cold winter months.
So what do ants have to do with aphids? A lot, it seems, and it is quite fascinating!
Ants are attracted to anything sweet including aphid excrement called honeydew. They care for the aphids and farm them like cows. Ants stroke the aphid’s abdomens to “milk” them for their sweet honeydew. And in the fall after the females lay their fertilized eggs, ants carry the eggs underground and guard them all winter.
In the spring, the cycle continues as the ants carry the eggs above ground and strategically place them on your juiciest garden plants so they can begin growing their herd all over again!
Ants protect aphids from enemies like ladybugs, and even carry them from plant to plant to graze in the greenest “pastures.”
As you can see, aphids are a formidable pest. They make growing a challenge, especially when we do not use any harmful chemical pesticides.
For some summer learning fun with your kids or grandkids, type in “ants farming aphids” on YouTube to bring up some interesting videos. Then go outside and look for ants and aphids. Aphids can be on many different kinds of plants from fruit trees to rosebushes and cabbage family plants in your garden. If you touch the plants, you may feel the sticky honeydew residue which can cause plant disease.
So what about the Salad Mix? We had planned on a summer mix with lettuce, spinach, and baby beet greens. Let us know what you think in the comments section below. Is Salad Mix with baby beet greens something you would be interested in? Or would you rather stick to mixing your own salad mix with our leaf lettuce and spinach leaves?