Milkweed bugs

Asked September 19, 2019, 7:43 PM EDT

We have lots of what I think are milkweed bugs on the milkweed plants in our church’s pollinator garden. Are these milkweed bugs (photo attached)? Is it a problem that there are so many? If so, how can we control them without hurting the pollinators we’re trying to attract? Thank you!

Montgomery County Maryland insect or spider id

1 Response

Hi - These are called milkweed bugs. They are not harmful unless you plan to save the seeds (which they feed on). They do not vector any type of plant disease. This article provides more information about them. https://marylandgrows.umd.edu/2018/09/26/theyre-orange-and-black-and-not-butterflies-whats-eating-my-milkweed-plant/

You can wear gloves and remove the insects manually (drop them into a jar of soapy water and discard) or just let them be. These insects are common on milkweeds, but the plants typically return just fine because they have stored enough energy in their roots systems by this time of year. Once the flowers are finished, there is no attraction for pollinators who seek pollen and nectar. Monarch caterpillars typically feed mainly on the foliage.

Christa