What is that black and

I found these yellow eggs on my Milkweed. Are they a butterfly egg?

Yellow eggs on my Milkweed?

2010–2013 Sherry Skipper Spurgeon All Rights Reserved.

Garden Bugs in the Milkweed

There are a lot of bugs that live in the Milkweed Patch; some that you think are eggs are not eggs after all! Read on and find out what some these bugs are…

Many people get very excited when they spot the multitude of what they think are yellow 'eggs' on their Milkweed plants. Unfortunately, the so-called 'eggs' are a pest called the Oleander Aphid or Milkweed Aphid (Aphis nerii). Upon closer inspection, you can actually see the legs of these little creatures.

The Aphis nerii is a sap-sucker and as such, can destroy your Milkweed plant. Some folks will say, "Don't worry about the yellow Aphids," but I disagree as I have seen what has happened to my plants and it is not pretty. This little critters can literally drain your plants of the life essences. They also will leave behind what is termed 'honeydew' which turns into a black, sooty, moldy substance. There are even ants that are attracted to the 'honeydew' so, by having these Aphids around, there's nothing but trouble.


The damage done by the Oleander Aphid can cause stunted growth in the Milkweed plant. They can also carry various viruses that can infect the plants.


One way to rid the Milkweed of these pests is to hose them off with water. A strong spray of water will wash them off. This is a safe method to 'wash' the plants and water them at the same time. Ladybugs are another method that is safe for ridding the plants of the Aphids although be aware that they will also eat butterfly eggs and small larvae. Sometimes, you just have to make the decision as to what you are willing to go with!

Although I don't recommend its use, you can use insecticidal soap. Just remember that that this soap can kill your caterpillars so you will need to wash the soap off the plants very well!

Daily monitoring and hosing off of the Aphids should be enough to keep your Milkweed patch in good shape.

There is an unusual insect that resides in the Milkweed patch that is black and red and it is NOT a Ladybug…it is the Milkweed Bug. This insect feeds on the seeds (it's a seed-sucker) and it can most often be found on the seed pods of your Milkweed plant.

There are two types of Milkweed Bugs; the Small (Lygaeus kamii) and the Large (Oncopletus fasciatus). They are both members of the true bug order (Hemiptera) and are of the seed bug (Lygaeidae) family.

Because they feed off of the Milkweed plant, they are like the Monarch in that predators will not eat them due to the cardenolides they've consumed. So, it is difficult to find a way to kill these little buggers.


Large Milkweed Bug

Oncopletus fasciatus

They lay multitudes of eggs on the undersides of leaves and in the crevices of the plants. The hatchlings (nymphs) are gregarious, so you will find them in groups EVERYWHERE! They are not only fast-moving but also emit an odd odour, likely due to the chemicals from the Milkweed.


Milkweed Bug nymphs

Since I am not fond of this particular garden bug I squish them when I see them. I've found that with the Aphids, these two insects can wreak a lot of havoc on the Milkweed plants. Seed pods become deformed and I've also seen them sucking the sap out of the leaves. Chemicals are not used in my garden so squishing is about all I can do to keep them under control.


Small Milkweed Bug

Lygaeus kamii

Small Alligator? No, Ladybug Larva!

Another beneficial insect is the Ladybug or ladybird Beetle. The larva is much more of a voracious eater than the adult and these little critters can consume hundreds of Aphids during their short larval stage. There are many misconceptions about the little Ladybug. For one, you can't determine gender by the number of spots on a Ladybug beetle but you can determine the species by the spots.

Check out the following photos following the life-cycle of this favourite garden insect. You may be in for a shock as you observe what they look ike during the four stages of its life-cycle!


Egg (ova)

Eggs are laid on the undersides of leaves. The golden-yellow eggs are oblong and laid in clusters.


The final molt results in the pupa. As it continues undergoing metamorphosis, it begins to look more like the adult Ladybug beetle we recognize.


Late instar larva looks nothing like the adult. During the larval stage the Ladybug is a voracious predator.


The adult Ladybug beetle emits a chemical that makes it unpalatable to predators. Although it is a predator in its own right it doesn't eat nearly as much in its adult stage as when it is in its larval stage.


Larvae hatch at about the same time. It takes about a week before they hatch.

Oleander Aphids are rather interesting because they are an obligate parthenogenetic species; all of the adults are female! Those with wings are called alata and the wingless are called apterea. Instead of laying eggs, the adults deposit nymphs which are clones of themselves. Without constant monitoring, your Milkweed patch can quickly become over-run by these little buggers.