Puzzling aphid patterns in my garden
I was out deadheading some roses that are finally blooming in this late warmup season, and I noticed an odd pattern in aphids in the yard. Normally I don't fuss much about aphids, since I like the notion of integrated pest management (also known as lazy gardening, in my case). I let the bugs duke it out among themselves, and in the long run the good guys usually win. I'll squish the aphids on rose buds and stems when I find them, but after the first flush really gets underway I don't see them any more and things seem to balance out.
This year, as I was deadheading I saw an absolute TON of aphids on the spent seedpods of the columbine that are everywhere in my yard. Those columbine are interspersed everywhere within all the beds, all of whom are packed with roses. As I checked, virtually every columbine seed pod was loaded with aphids and there were absolutely none I could find on any of the roses. Nada, zilch. We're talking columbine no more than 6 inches from the neighboring roses, and given my experience with aphids that kind of distance is no problem to cross if they're hungry. Besides, how did they get to all the columbine in my yard if they couldn't travel?
I'm totally thrilled, since I don't care what they do to the seed pods and there's virtually no damage they could do that would matter there. I'm also puzzled, though, since I thought aphids liked the juicy growing matter of the buds, so why would they pick nasty dry seed pods as a preference? Is there some chemical in columbines that attract aphids as a trap crop to keep them away from the roses? Could this be related to the relatively low ladybug population I've noted after this cold winter, compared to previous years? I didn't notice any on the blooms themselves of the columbines, so they didn't destroy that aspect of the garden. If this works, I'm planting a lot more columbine, not that this is a hardship!
Any ideas to explain this? I knew aphids were stupid, but I didn't know they were this stupid. Not that I'm complaining of course...