The large milkweed bug, Oncopeltus fasciatus

Oncopeltus Fasciatus

Oncopeltus Fasciatus, more commonly known as the Milkweed Bug, is one of only two creatures whose natural food is the unpopular Milkweed plant. The other being the more famous Monarch Butterfly.

Milkweed bugs are more annoyance than danger to either Milkweed plants or humans. They feed on Milkweed by piercing the seed pods and drawing nourishment through their proboscis, mosquito style. Bugs can be found on Milkweed mid to late summer. The bodies of Milkweed Bugs contain toxins derived from the sap they suck. No surprises there: You are what you eat. Do not eat these bugs.

These clusters of bugs were found during a visit to the pollinator garden at the Morgan’s Point conservation area in Ontario. After our hike we took a few moments to check out the garden, which is conveniently located right beside the parking area. We were looking for Monarch butterflies, but found these. Warily dodging the many bees busily making preparations for Winter, I leaned in.

I will note here that in general, flying insects tend not to bite without good reason. None that I know of eat (live) human flesh. Unlike wasps and hornets, Honey bees actually die once they have stung, so sting only in last resort. I have often been surrounded by bees and wasps with them crawling on my skin. It is an uncomfortable feeling but I do not have any allergies. Though I don’t recommend it to others, I find that if I leave them alone, they leave me alone. Just be careful not to step on a nest or squash one. You will not enjoy what happens next: It’s friends come to visit.

But Milkweed Bugs are absolutely fine. Not dangerous. Please, don’t step on them either.

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