Plants, Stone, California Landscapes


Golden Mummies

golden mummies & aphids

golden mummies & aphids

Please excuse the rather unpleasant photo. Aphids are gross, but golden mummies are one of the best things I ever learned about IPM.

We’ve had a couple of outbreaks of aphids this spring, first with the lupine when it put out a big flush of new growth and now on our kales as they begin to bolt. Golden mummies are the brownish, mummified carcasses of parasitized aphids; wasps lay their eggs in the aphids and the larva eat the aphids from the inside, leaving the dried husks. If you aren’t familiar with them, click on the photo and you should be able to see the difference. In the garden, another way to tell the difference is that aphids move and mummies don’t.

When you see an outbreak of aphids, the presence of golden mummies is one sign that natural predators are present. Count the aphids and golden mummies on a leaf, and, if the outbreak includes at least 10 percent golden mummies, the natural predators will deal with the outbreak for you. Spraying would kill the natural predators along with the aphids and therefore be counterproductive, though aiming a spray of water against the aphids to knock them off (which actually kills a large percentage of them, while not harming the beneficials) is okay if you want to speed the process. 

In the photo, I count 14 golden mummies (mostly on the right, but three in the population of aphids on the left) and estimate about 100 aphids, so our IPM is working. Our earlier outbreak on the lupine was the same way, and it resolved itself without intervention.

ryan 4/22

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6 Responses to “Golden Mummies”

  1. April 22nd, 2009 at 1:01 pm

    easygardener says:

    That’s very interesting. I have never noticed the dried husks before. I had problems with aphids on Kale. Next time I’ll take a closer look!

  2. April 22nd, 2009 at 1:43 pm

    lostlandscape (James) says:

    What is it with aphids and kale? I’ve had exactly the same problem, though only on one of three locations in the garden, with the two other areas being untouched. I just checked the corner with all the aphids–Unfortunately the aphids are winning…

  3. April 22nd, 2009 at 2:21 pm

    wiseacre says:

    I’ve never had aphid problems (crosses fingers) so I’ve never seen those before. The pic isn’t unpleasant but having aphids would be. Even more so is the thought of Kellogg’s all natural Golden Mummy cereal.

  4. April 22nd, 2009 at 6:38 pm

    keewee says:

    I don’t usually have a problem with aphids, but this year I have some on my roses. I mix a solution of mild dish soap and water and put it in a spray bottle. this seems to take care of the nasty little critters.

  5. April 23rd, 2009 at 10:09 pm

    bradzio says:

    I basically try to control my aphids by planting lots of flowers and plants that attract beneficials. But aphids kept attacking one of the varieties of broccoli I had this winter. I used the hose method you mentioned Ryan and it definitely kept it under control.

  6. April 28th, 2009 at 2:17 pm

    Nan Ondra says:

    I am SO glad you shared this, Ryan! I’ve been fretting about aphids in the greenhouse at work but hate to spray anything. Just the other day, I was checking some seedlings and noticed the mummies but didn’t think anything about them until I was visiting here the other day and ran across your post. When I looked more closely yesterday, I was delighted to find many mummies and very few aphids. And now I know why!

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