Are Milkweed bugs bad?

By Katie on September 24, 2015 in Blog


The Large Milkweed Bug, in various stages of metamorphosis. The ones with black stripes are the fully formed adults, while the ones with fewer markings are nymphs.

They’re less dangerous than they look.

The orange-black Large Milkweed Bug (Oncopeltus fasciatus) lives on milkweed and feeds on the plant’s stems, leaves and pods.

The bugs live for only a month or so and go through an incomplete metamorphosis. Females lay eggs in-between the milkweed pods, and after about four days, the nymphs emerge. After the nymphs hatch, they molt every few days and grow in size. Once they reach adulthood, they can fly.

Similar to the Monarch butterfly, the Large Milkweed Bug protects itself by consuming milkweed sap–which is toxic to most predators.

For the most part, these bugs aren’t dangerous. They don’t bite or sting, nor do they cause any real damage to the plant. The bug’s only drawback is that they can deform the pods, and in some cases, if the infestation is large, crowd out Monarchs. If you have a butterfly garden or would simply prefer to rid your milkweed of the bugs, they are easily squished.