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Did you know Milkweed plants have matching insects same color scheme as the Monarch Butterfly?


I am an insect “wannabe” geek! I would love to be an entomologist in my other life, as well as a  few other careers. An “entomologist” is not something that was taught in school as a possible career choice.When I was growing up, no one ever said, ” HEY, You like bugs why not become an entomologist”. Wish they did!


I was wandering through our Urban Potager a few weeks ago and found these interesting bugs on one of my milkweed plants. My first reaction was ” Wow, they are beautiful!” Yep, I am weird like that but then I started to think, are they hurting my plant? Are they like Japanese beetles?Do I need to drown them in soapy water? What should I do???


Creating habitat on city lots has taught me to be patient and observe. Don’t over react. Be quiet, still and ponder. Try to figure out what is going on before you do anything. Research the intruder and find out what they are doing in your new habitat. I don’t use chemicals in Palm Rae Potager. I am trying to create, a balanced ecosystem that can take care of itself. It is part of the process; I have found.



Since I have been implementing Doug Tallamy’s , author of Bring Nature Home principles in our Urban Potager I am finding more diversity in my garden. I don’t panic anymore when I find some new “visitor” to my garden.



These bugs only attack the milkweed plant and  are not bothering anyone else. Look what I found at an educational site.

Impact on the Ecosystem

Milkweed bugs are one of a small group of insects that have the ability to tolerate the toxic compounds in the milkweed plant. They are therefore important in regulating populations of this plant.


None, unless you are trying to raise milkweed plants!


Well, My Urban Potager is a small city lot, and I don’t need to raise milkweed, so I am going to let them be in our habitat. My milkweed bugs will be staying and shoot, they did not eat ALL the milkweed seeds. If you put away the chemicals, Mother Nature knows how to take care of herself! You can read more here about these interesting insects on the milkweed plant. (read more)


I believe the greatest artist of all is God. When you get up close to nature is when you see all the patterns and colors perfectly orchestrated. I found it interesting that all the insects associated with the milkweed plant have the same color scheme as the monarch butterfly.


Intriguing, don’t you think?







30 replies »

  1. I love finding new things in my garden too Robbie. And what amazing looking creatures these are. Lovely post as always.

  2. A lovely gentle post about caution when facing our human desire to wage war on any, and every insect we spy in our precious gardens. You are right about everything here. I just wish we could find something that delights in the flavour and teeny, tiny crunchy texture (can’t be much “meat” in one…) in white flies. Despite our near South Pole conditions of late they still survive up in Sanctuary! I think they are evolving! :(. Oh well, maybe the rats will eat them as there is precious little left in sanctuary at the moment aside from the perennial leeks that are going gangbusters as the rats are not partial to them ;).

    • I totally understand things getting eaten. I have a bunch of new fall/winter crops to go in and I am trying to figure out how to get them out there and not have them eaten in one day! The beneficials take care of each other and you don’t really have to see it going on, but the rabbits-well-that is horrible. I found some fur in my garden and I know “Chance” my dog was responsible. He wanders to the back of the yard and is quiet sometimes. I bet he quietly kills(rabbits scream-go figure)! It is the circle of life:-) BUT, I have one bunny that just knows how to escape the dog!

  3. Like you I find it really intriguing that the colour schemes of bug and monarch are similar. Just another way of nature indicating to us the good the bad and the ugly perhaps? I love what you say about waiting and observing before taking action – a habit that can be applied to all areas of life I think 🙂 Another chapter in the garden book begins to take form I think. In my imagination the tome is now a big, hefty glossy affair filled with outstanding photos and words of wisdom 😉 xoxo

    • It seems all the bugs on this plant are of that color combination-NUTS!If I had my wish a book with “bug pictures” and I could go and take them all:-) I have to admit, I did stop in my tracks and do a “oh no” before I paused! I am sure my neighbors saw me out there gawking- wondering what is the crazy lady with all the plants looking at up close-lol

  4. Very intriguing – the big one looks exactly like the Plague Soldier Beetle we have here in Australia (they also do absolutely no harm). It’s great that you didn’t consign them to the soapy-water bucket in the sky 🙂

    • 🙂 I know for my first reaction was “oh no” and then I thought, “wow” they are beautiful! I don’t have a lot of space so too much milkweed would be a problem:-)

  5. I love your philosophy – I get nutty when people just reach for an insecticide – good lord, what are they thinking? Nature managed perfectly well until humans came along and started messing with the system. 😉

    • :-)Like Lori Commented I (What the Ducks) they are ready for Halloween-LOL:-)I remember one that visited our kids classroom when they were in elementary school + he brought bugs!At least the next generation has a lot more choices:-) You have two you know-I never knew one until an adult!

  6. Lovely photos Robbie. I am glad that you are letting them be. They are so colourful. I never use chemicals either. I inspect my lilies and asparagus daily and pick the bugs off. Disgusting but effective.
    I put coffee grounds round my lettuce and brassica plants and that keeps the molluscs off.

    • Hi Chloris:-) Only a true gardener could appreciate the beauty of these bugs:-) It is disgusting and once you get past the “ick” factor well, it works great. I have been reading a lot about beneficials and including more plants to attract parasitic wasps. I have only seen one cucumber beetle this year + one squash bug. I do believe there is something to this companion planting and letting nature heal herself:-)

  7. You got some terrific photos of those bugs. Bug book publishers would be delighted with them. I’m glad they do no harm so you don’t have to harm them either. I’ll start looking at my plants a little more carefully now. Though I will admit I’m not a fan of bugs. 😦

    • awww:-) I totally understand. Most people are like “ick” but I find them beautifully patterned. I have to admit they do not have the cute factor-lol

  8. I discovered these on my Milkweed a few years ago and let them be. I still have plenty of Milkweed. I think they are cool – beautiful, too. I am really disliking the dogwood sawfly, though, who is once again attacking my dogwood – but the wasps are moving in to counter attack. It is a sorry sight but it certainly recovered with a vengeance from last year and I believe it will recover again.

    • Kathy-you are my sister in the fight for creating backyard habitats! I knew you would think they were beautiful! It is so interesting to watch how when you attract beneficials + provide for native bugs they balance it all out:-)

  9. I also see lots of these bugs on my milkweed. Since my milkweeds don’t seem to have trouble spreading, I assume they are not doing too much damage. It is striking how they have the same colors as the Monarchs.

    • :-)Yeah!Another bug fan! I went out there yesterday and our milkweed seed was producing puffs of milkweed:-)There was enough left to grow more milkweed-they ate what they needed. They sure were an interesting bug once I stepped back and did not panic-lol:-) glad you stopped by and enjoyed:-)

  10. They are certainly colorful! You are so patient (and kind and smart) to research first before grabbing a spray bottle. My experience with bugs has been that the healthier the garden, the more that nature will find a way to tackle out of control elements like “bad” bugs. It’s interesting that he says they don’t have any predators. Most systems have both (unless it’s non-native plant or bug, I guess). It took me about three years but finally we’re achieving enough balance that I never see Japanese beetles anymore and this year, no aphids either! Cabbage butterflies are still a problem (might be because I love to plant brassicas) but crop covers work pretty well. Thank you again for sharing this important POV on pest control!!! 🙂

    • From what I read they have something that is “upsetting” to predators so they vomit:-) Not a pleasant experience-LOL!
      I totally understand the cabbage butterflies for they love my yard and I sure have a lot of host plants for them! I know what you mean about the balance, I have not seen a cucumber beetle all summer! It does seem to work it out if you let it figure it out over time + plant the beneficial plants to help:-)

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