Milkweed Bugs

Barbara said she spotted these bugs on her milkweed plants. View the photo on Instagram here.

Question:

What kind of bugs are they, and do they pose a threat to milkweed plants or caterpillars?

Answer: Milkweed bugs

Lyle Buss, University of Florida entomologist, said that these bugs in the photo are indeed milkweed bugs, a type of seed bug (family Lygaeidae). They prefer to feed on seeds of the milkweed plants, which is probably why they were given that name. Furthermore, milkweed bugs like to spend most of their time on the pods of the milkweed plants.

The bugs featured in the photo are young nymphs, which make them a bit more difficult to confirm their identity. Oncopeltus fasciatus is the most common species in Florida, but there are several other species of Oncopeltus in Florida as well. As a side note, Buss said their bright orange color serve to warn potential predators that they are toxic to eat.

If you would like your bug identified and additional information, a great place to start is your local County Extension Office. With an office located in every county, it has never been easier to partner with the University of Florida and your local County Government.

Send your question and bug photo to your local County Extension Office, and they will gladly answer all inquiries. To find an office near you, visit the Solutions for Your Life website, or contact us at sfyl@ifas.ufl.edu.

Photo Credit: AdamLongSculpture/iStock/Thinkstock