Monarch butterflies aren’t the only insects interested in milkweed plants. Just today I spied a red milkweed beetle (Tetraopes tetrophthalmus) on a Asclepias syriaca plant right outside of the Tucker Greenhouse. The scientific name for this beetle is Latin for ‘four eyes’. This beetle looks as though it has four eyes since each antenna bisects its eyes. They are also called milkweed longhorns because of their long antennae.
When I first saw this beetle, it was sort of hiding down in the whorl of the leaves, but it had clearly been chewing the leaves. It turns out that milkweed plants in the genus Asclepias are the host plants for this beetle. Milkweed plants contain certain toxic alkaloids, so it has been surmised that the beetle gets a certain amount of protection from predators by ingesting these toxins. If you’d like to learn more about these cool insects, click here.
Check out these very colorful Milkweed beetles below.