Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Small Milkweed Bug

The Butterflyweed is in full bloom and the bright orange flowers have attracted a collection of Small Milkweed Bugs, Lygaeus kalmii.  When I was in school, I raised Milkweed Bugs by the bucketful for the entomology lab, but I prefer to see them individually in the wild.

Milkweed bugs are seed eaters known for their ability to eat milkweed seeds right through the thick seed pod wall.  Their long piercing mouth parts are highly effective at reaching those hidden seeds.  The fact that an adult is present this early in the season, suggests that they are not totally dependent on seeds for their sustenance.

This individual was busily probing the base of the flowers.  The target may have been nectar or material from the ovary.  This species visits many species of milkweeds, but its coloring seems especially suited to the Butterflyweed.

It’s fortunate that the bugs can survive on other milkweed components besides the seeds.  It’s going to be awhile before any seed pods are available.

By the time seed pods form, these adults will be laying eggs and preparing to raise a family.  If they are successful, seed pods may be completely covered by orange and black nymphs.  Milkweed bugs are attractive and fascinating creatures.  I hope to see a lot of them this year.


  1. Wonderful shots of this colorful critter!

  2. HI Steve..yes I am still alive !! My sister has been here for 3 weeks and, left yesterday, so my time has been taken up visiting with her, and comments and blogging has been pretty much on the back burner, and if I don't get a post done soon it probably will catch on fire! ; }
    I have just been through your posts, from the Woodpecker baby feeding, the lovely butterflies, bee's,bugs, little fish & etc. up to today ..I have seen these Milkweed bugs here on the Milkweed plants...they sure are prettier on the Orange butterfly Plant though!!
    I not sure about you raised these fella's huh!! ; }
    Thanks for not posting any snakes lately : }!!

  3. Thanks Pat.

    Hi Grace. I wondered where you were. I can understand taking the time to visit with family.

    The only snakes I've seen lately are those around the house and barn that you've already seen. I'll try to give you some warning if I find new snakes and decide to post them.