Today when I went out to the Milkweed Garden to check for Monarch Butterflies I came upon these little red guys on a couple of the Milkweed pods.
Here's a closer look.
Upon a little delving I discovered these are the nymphs of the Milkweed Red Bugs which very often accompany milkweed.
There are two kinds of Milkweed Bugs and they are called the Large Milkweed Bug and the Small Milkweed Bug. Both are red and have a slightly different arrangement of black spots.
Milkweed Bugs are specially adapted to eat Milkweed as are Monarch Butterflies but for most of the rest of us the Milkweed "milk" is toxic.
And because the Milkweed Bugs feed on Milkweed, snacking on them is not recommended, and therefore they are fairly
safe from predators too. The same goes for the Monarch Butterfly, whose larvae
also feed on Milkweed, which makes the adult also safe from most predators.
The chemicals in the Milkweed latex is toxic. The latex contains
cardiac glycosides. If a predator eats one of
these bugs, the predator will more than likely vomit.
And who needs that?
And if you or another predator ate a lot of the bugs (or a lot of Monarch Butterflies for that matter) or the Milkweed itself the cardiac glycosides, which are cardiac arrestors could stop your heart besides tasting really bad.
Which I have to admit is worse than vomiting.
Take my word for it. I tasted Milkweed Sap as a child and it tastes BAD. No, I didn't vomit. I spit it out. I'm no dummy.
Happy Hawking (which we will be back to with the next installment of the Red-tails vs the "Little Bird" Mystery)