So this year, I started out with full intentions on finally recovering my gardens, got them rototilled, plant food, then never got around to planting anything as my nice days were too busy with photography and there has been too much rain. So the weeds took back over and I have just been mowing the gardens (i know – i fail). However……oddly enough RIGHT next to my raised deck, a sunflower stalk appeared….against the house, against the deck and so I have left it – maybe someone dropped a seed off my deck last year or in the spring. Just one….
Its been growing and growing, and hasn’t developed a bud yet but the stalk now sits at 9 feet and is higher then the railing on my deck which is about 8 feet off the ground. This lets us see all that is going on at the top of this flower.
Last week i noticed a cluster of what looked like black eggs on the stalk… and several ants around it – i scraped them off and saw they looked like tiny beetles and weren’t eggs at all. I threw them out and didn’t think of it again.
Today i noticed there is a TONNE more- only at the top and more ants. So I looked into it online (google is your best friend somedays)
Turns out these are Black Sunflower Aphids and are very dangerous to the sunflower, sucking all the good things out of it, but i was curious about why so many ants all over the aphids….so before I remove them i took a photo and did more research…
Well the crazy life cycle of nature….. Ants actually “farm” them for the sticky honeydew that they excrete from sucking the sap of tender plants. In other words, the ants use the aphids as food-producing slaves, and are intent on keeping them alive and healthy for that reason.
So my ants are keeping my bad aphids alive all on this single sunflower that grew completely by accident. I dont know whether to let the aphids have the plant and the ants have the aphids since i never intended on growing this flower to begin with.
I guess i have to decide! Meanwhile here is a photo taken quickly off my deck 9 feet high in the sky!