Symptom No. 1: The ants told me about the aphids. I watched them climb the columbine stems and travel the extravagant blossoms. The buds and blooms the ants were monitoring were covered in tiny pale-green triangular aphid bodies. Symptom No. 2: Sooty mold appears on leaves. Putting the pieces together, as many of my gardener readers already have, my garden plot, as well as the community garden as whole, has an aphid infestation, carefully cultivated by ants with ranching instincts. Then today help arrived in the shape of a soldier beetle, which I identified using Garden Insects of North America (Whitney Cranshaw), a handy, if hefty, tome. Soldier beetles eat aphids! Sadly, I had already cut down and disposed of many blossoms. The fairy-garden look is now over.