Ants, lady beetles and a clear sticky substance on your leaves are good indications that aphids have moved into your garden for a meal.
These small tear-dropped-shaped insects come in a variety of colors.
They use their needle-like mouthparts to suck plant juices, causing leaves to curl, yellow, and brown. Growth can become distorted and stunted when populations and feeding levels are high.
The aphids secrete honeydew, a clear sweet sticky substance, that often attracts ants.
And if you see lady beetles, nature has moved in to control this pest. Both the adults and larvae can eat hundreds of aphids in one day.
Start treatment, if needed, with a strong blast of water to dislodge and kill many of the aphids. Trap these pests with a yellow bowl filled with soapy water. If needed, use eco-friendly products like insecticidal soap, Horticulture oil, or Neem.
A fun, but not so attractive way to manage aphids is with reflective mulch. Place heavy duty foil or similar reflective material on the soil around the plants. Anchor in place. Since aphids orient themselves by the sky (not sure who figured that out), once they see the sky above and below they get confused, crash and die. I tried it and it really works.