A family that eats together….

Adult Milkweed Bug

As our native Milkweed plant goes, it has a pretty unappealing taste to many insects. And yet, our beloved Monarch butterfly caterpillars regale it as the best lunch room in town. Thanks to the Milkweed’s bad tasting sap, it limits the dining room attendance to a few hardy leaf-munching/sucking souls. The Large Milkweed Bug is one of those such critters can be found in great abundance these days.

Various instar stages of Milkweed Bugs
Various instar stages of Milkweed Bugs

These insects undergo an incomplete metamorphosis which means they do not go through the egg-larvae-pupae stage as insects with a complete metamorphosis. This is why everyone in the family photo pretty much looks like one another albeit the younger ones lacking their distinctively colored wings. Newly laid eggs take about one week to hatch. After undergoing 5 moltings or instar stages, they become an adult at about one month of age. They pierce the Milkweed seed pod skin and feast on the seeds located inside. They might suck juices from other plants but generally do little damage.

Thanks to the aforementioned bad tasting milkweed sap that they ingest it goes without saying that they also taste bad. Their bright orange coloring is another warning sign nature built in to this creature. After trying a bite of a Milkweed bug, not many birds will try another orange snack be it a Milkweed bug or a Monarch butterfly.


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