The Milkweed Community

That wonderful intoxicating smell of common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) blossoms lures all kinds of little critters to it. The majority of insects that feed on a milkweed are in some form of red/orange and black due to a chemical in the sap. Fascinating stuff! Here are some of the critters we found in our backyard milkweed community.

Yellow-Collared Scape Moth (Cisseps fulvicollis) on the left, skipper down below.

Ermine Moth (Atteva punctella)

Milkweed Beetle (Tetraopes tetraophthalmus): I am so in love with this adorable insect. The milkweed beetle has 4 eyes instead of 2, the antennae are between the eyes. These little creatures will fall from the milkweed when threatened as a form of defense. They will play dead for a bit then scurry back up the milkweed when danger has passed. They didn’t seem to be too frightened of the camera though, this little fellow came up to the tip of the leaf for a closer look.

Fuzzy spider stalking my little milkweed beetles. Shoo you!

Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus) of course. Seeing the monarch butterfly on the milkweed causes Fauna to jump up and down yelling, “Do you see her abdomen touching the leaves??!!” She is determined to see a female laying eggs on the milkweed this year.

The monarch caterpillar resting after a morning of munching leaves. A full grown monarch caterpillar can eat an entire milkweed leaf in 4 minutes. Reminds me of some little growing girls I know!

Some fun milkweed facts from EEK!:

*Its Latin name, Asclepias syriaca, is named in honor of the Greek god of healing Aesculapius.

*Sap from milkweed was used by pioneers as a cure for warts.

*The airborne fluffy parachute of the seed was used by Native Americans to insulate moccasins.

*The dried empty seed pods were used as Christmas tree decorations by early pioneers.

*The boys and girls from Wisconsin schools collected 283,000 bags of milkweed fluff for use in military life jackets during World War II.

*It is used as an indicator of ground-level ozone air pollution.

One response to “The Milkweed Community”

  1. Lisa DiGiacomo

    My daughter is doing a report on the cobalt milkweed beetle and there is virtually NO information on it in the library or on the internet. It is a beautiful beetle, which is why she chose it, but we can’t learn much about it. Do you know anything about it?