143/150: Monarchs aren’t the only ones that need milkweed

Animalia: Arthropoda: Insecta: Hemiptera: Lygaeidae: Oncopeltus: Oncopeltus fasciatus: (Dallas, 1852)

Large milkweed bugs are a member of the family Lygaeidae, otherwise known as seed bugs. They get their name from their association with the milkweed plant. They lay their eggs in milkweed pod crevasses and the seeds provide a food and defense source for them. Through eating the seeds, milkweed bugs sequester toxins, which act as a chemical defense against predators. Just like monarch butterflies that also eat milkweed, the large milkweed bug bears the daunting colours of black and orange. This colouration acts as a warning signal for predators to say: “I’m not going to be as tasty as you think.” One interesting misidentification that is commonly made is between these and Box Elder bugs. Despite being the same colour scheme and being roughly the same size, you can tell by the patterns of red on their black wings (seen in the photo below). Those black and orange bugs you seen in the news as pests in large numbers are probably box elder bugs, and not large milkweed bugs. #Canada150 #Biodiversity150

The Large Milkweed bug – Specimen CNC#HEM400640 – Perth, Ontario – 13-Sep-2008
The Large Milkweed Bug is depicted on the left, and the Box Elder bug on the right. Photo Credit: Katja Schulz goo.gl/R9BPFH & Judy Gallagher goo.gl/nS59Zp
A Large Milkweed Bug on a leaf. Photo Credit: Ryan Hodnett goo.gl/81NCCK

Here’s the barcode sequence information for this species:

Process ID: CRHIA649-16

nucleotide sequence


amino acid sequence


Visual representation of DNA barcode sequence for Milkweed bug

Learn more about it’s BIN (Barcode Index Number): BOLD:AAG8878

85/150: Common Milkweed is bitter and milky, perfect for the Monarch Butterfly

Plantae: Spermatophyta: Angiospermae: Dicotyledonae: Gentianales: Asclepiadaceae: Asclepias: Asclepias syriaca (Blanco, 1837)

Asclepias syriaca or Common Milkweed is native to eastern North America and receives its name from the milky sap excreted from the stem and leaves when damaged. This full sun, drought tolerant plant blooms in early to mid-summer attracting a variety of insects including bumblebees, monarch butterflies and hummingbird moths. Continue reading “85/150: Common Milkweed is bitter and milky, perfect for the Monarch Butterfly”