Weeds Are in the Eye of the Beholder

We have weeds growing in the school garden. We planted them there. Specifically, we have five species of milkweed, two of which are in bloom right now.

Swamp Milkweed, Asclepias incarnata
Butterfly Weed, Asclepias tuberosa

I spent one morning this week collecting data on the Monarch butterfly eggs and larvae on the milkweed plants for a citizen science project – in the fall the students will take over this as a project for science class. As a lot of you probably know, Monarchs incorporate the toxins from the milkweed into their bodies, which makes them nasty-tasting to potential predators. Since this is such a great strategy, it makes sense that other insects would have hit on it too, such as these Red Milkweed Beetles. It’s not a coincidence that they have the same red and black warning colors as the butterflies!

Red Milkweed Beetles, Tetraopes tetropthalmus

After the very hot weather this week, a front finally came through and cooled things off this afternoon. I was almost chilly while I was taking these photos. It was soooooo nice.

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8 thoughts on “Weeds Are in the Eye of the Beholder”

    1. Thanks. The swamp milkweed is definitely beautiful, and we have a LOT of it in the school garden at the moment. It’s funny, traditional gardeners try and prevent bugs from eating their plants, but since our students study Monarchs for their environmental science credit we plant plants specifically to be eaten by insects!

  1. I love these types of “weeds” too! Great photos of the milkweed beetles.
    Glad it cooled off for you a bit. Today it was 104 here, and tomorrow, my hubby just told me it’s supposed to be 105. A cool front will follow, I hope!

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