I have something very strange for you today. I found this bug climbing on a milkweed plant. The very same plant where I got some excellent pictures of a bumblebee. When I first saw it I thought it was a ladybug/ladybird. The only problem with that theory was that this bug was about twice the size of one of those, and the spots were also much bigger.
I thought maybe it was a mutant of some sort, but in my heart I knew that was wrong. I really had no idea that there could be another bug that looked so similar to a ladybug, until now. The question for me though was what was the identity of this odd bug?
Well, it took me a long time to learn what it was, but I finally found out the name of this mysterious bug. The bug is called a Swamp Milkweed Leaf Beetle. I guess the name helps explain why this beetle was climbing all over the milkweed plant. But is there more information about this beetle?
First of all, there are four species of bugs related to this one, but only one is located north of Mexico, and your looking right at it. It is known for its distinctive black and red/orange colors, and its well developed legs. If you look at the ends of the legs you can see that there are hooks that help it grasp onto the leaves of the milkweed plant.
You can find these on roadsides, meadows, and wetlands in the United States east of the Rocky Mountains. They mainly eat swamp milkweed, but other types of milkweed plants are also fair game for them. You'll see them from late spring through the fall. Their red or orange color is directly attributed to the milkweed they eat. Monarch butterflies and milkweed bugs are the same in this regard.
It seems as if I'm not the only one who thinks this beetle looks like a ladybug. They are frequently mistaken for a large mutated ladybug. Most people with knowledge about bugs know exactly what they are though. It seems I am now beginning to be one of those bug people, so I know what these are too.
So what do you think of this swamp milkweed leaf beetle? Would you mistake it for a ladybug? Does it look as cute as a ladybug? Or do you think it looks like a scary looking interloper? Those hooked feet might sway your answer a little bit. I wonder if a ladybug has hooked feet like that.
This is one of the many interesting bugs I have found on my adventures. I have yet to feature the others. I'd like to determine their identities first, but I'll show them even if I don't. This one happens to be one of my favorites. Would you like to see more photos of this bug? Give me your thoughts.