In early June 2016, we noticed that the milkweed leaves were curling in on themselves. The leaves were also covered in more bugs than in past years, which could have been contributing to the curling. Some bugs on milkweed leaves, such as aphids, feed on the milky substance inside the milkweed which the plants are named after. Ants help protect the aphids in exchange for honeydew, which is a byproduct of aphids eating the milky part of the plant. Other bugs will eat the bugs that harm the milkweed. One of these helpful bugs are ladybugs.
One of our garden volunteers found that we could order 1,500 living ladybugs on Amazon for $6.75 plus shipping. The ladybugs were shipped to us from California. We released some ladybugs once they arrived, and stored the others in a refrigerator. Releasing the ladybugs at dawn or dusk encourages them to stay near where you release them. We made sure there was water sprinkled on the leaves for the ladybugs to drink. Hopefully, the ladybugs will stay and eat the aphids. A day after releasing the ladybugs, there were already fewer other bugs on the milkweed leaves, and the leaves had begun to uncurl. If the ladybugs just fly away, we can put a spray on the leaves that attracts them before releasing the rest.