I found these little insects today resting and munching on our Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly weed). They are known as milkweed bugs or Oncopeltus fasciatus. According to the University of Arizona Extension the milkweed bugs feed on:
Seeds and tissue of the milkweed plant (Asclepias spp.). In captivity, the bugs feed on shelled sunflower seeds.
I’m trying to figure out the “in captivity” part. Do people keep these insects as pets? Do they house them for some sort of mad scientist experiments?
Whatever the case these insects eat the juices of various varieties of milkweeds which makes them pretty much unpalatable to any potential predators. This is very similar to monarch butterflies whose larvae also ingest milkweed. Depending on how much you like milkweed (and I don’t know anyone who doesn’t, maybe I just don’t know enough people) these orange and black milkweed munchers aren’t welcome inhabitants of the garden.