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Milkweed Bug- Good or Bad?

There are two types of Milkweed Bugs that love to hang out on the Milkweed plants: the Large Large Milkweed Bug and the Small Milkweed Bug.  Both feed on the seeds of the Milkweed plants.  They look almost exactly the same, except for, you guessed it, one is smaller than the other.

Now what is a Milkweed Plant?  I call it the Butterfly Bush.  It is a beautiful plant that gives you orange, yellow blooms from mid to late summer.

The ‘babies’ or nymphs of the Milkweed Bugs look kind of like the adults but don’t have any wings nor any reproductive organs. They also lack the black spots initially.  Females lay eggs in small areas/crevices between the pods on the Milkweed plant. She will lay about 30 eggs a day and can lay up to 2000 total in her lifetime (lifespan is about one month).

As they nymphs grow, they can often be seen gathered together in one spot on a Milkweed plant…and, if the plant is touched or disturbed, then all of these brilliantly-coloured critters scatter!

So are they Good or are they Bad?  It depends on if you will be collecting your Milkweed Seeds.  If the answer is yes, than you want to remove the bugs and destroy their nymphs.  Milkweed bugs are more of a nuisance than a threat to milkweed plants. They feed on the seeds by piercing the seed pod and can be found in all stages of growth on the plants in mid to late summer.  Because they have no predators, it will be up to you to remove them.  A quick smash will do.  If you are not picky about how much or where your milkweed distributes their seeds than leave the bugs alone.

I have noticed a lot of Milkweed bugs this year.  I am sure due to the mild winter we had.  I’ve decided to leave them alone, for now, unless they start to explode throughout the garden.  I am a believer that mother nature usually balances out things and she will take care of the equation herself in the upcoming seasons.

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8 comments on “Milkweed Bug- Good or Bad?”

  1. Earthyman, good thing you said something about dogs. My dog walked past the bug on our porch when I noticed it and took a picture. Now it’s gone. About a month or so ago I saw a butterfly with the same colors but I didn’t get a chance to get a picture of it. It was pretty. Maybe something is going on underneath the porch. I’ll check it out

  2. They do have predators–birds eat them.
    Pretty sure every living thing on Earth has a predator, even if it’s a virus.

  3. Now what is a Milkweed Plant? I call it the Butterfly Bush. It is a beautiful plant that gives you orange, yellow blooms from mid to late summer.

    This is a great article with fabulous photos. But….let’s call this plant what it is……..Asclepias tuberosa. There are several kinds of milkweeds and lots of things called “butterfly bush”. Thanks for the information on the bugs!

  4. thankyou so much! I have been looking for about thirty minutes and I could not find out if the milkweed bug was harmful or not! you rock! next time I need help, I am coming to this website!

  5. The Milkweed Bugs ingest the sap of the milkweeds making them toxic. The bugs then contain cardiac glycocides. These glycocides are cardiac arrestors and contain a steriod which can stop the heart. Don’t allow you pet dog eat the bugs as they could be dangerous to his health.

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