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Large Milkweed Bug (Oncopeltus fasciatus)


Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Large Milkweed Bug.

 Updated: 7/10/2019; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©www.InsectIdentification.org




The pretty harmless Milkweed Bug can be found in great numbers and at every stage of life in the eastern U.S. states.



Adult Milkweed Bugs do not appear to damage flowers, vegetable gardens, or field crops, but because they are usually found in huge groups, most people react with alarm when finding them. This insect feeds on nectar, especially from the milkweed plant. They do not linger all season long, so many people let them be.

Milkweed Bugs may be seen in huge numbers, even on warm winter days. Adults overwinter, waiting for spring, and may be fooled by a suddenly warm day and venture out. This species lays bright red eggs that hatch in the spring. Rounded nymphs start out a bright red with black antennae. As the nymphs mature, they begin to gain black spots, short black wing coverings, and begin turning orange. After more molting, the slender, mature adult form is black and orange. A black diamond shaped mark on the thorax is surrounded by an orange border. A wide black band crosses the center of the eltyra. The lower tips of the wings are also black.

This insect can fly from plant to plant. It is common to see eggs, young nymphs, and mature adults all sharing the same plant. A toxic chemical in the milkweed plant is stored inside the insect as well. This renders it distasteful to predators, offering the Milkweed Bug some protection.
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Taxonomic Hierarchy
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Hemiptera
        Family: Lygaeidae
          Genus: Oncopeltus
            Species: fasciatus
Identifying Information
Scientific Name: Oncopeltus fasciatus
Other Name(s): Milkweed Bug
Category: True Bug
Size (Adult; Length): 10mm to 15mm (0.39in to 0.59in)
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: black; orange; red
Descriptors: flying, multicolored
Territorial Map
Alaska  
Hawaii  
Prince Edward Is.  
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Territorial Reach (A-to-Z)
Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut
Delaware
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Vermont
Virginia
Washington
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming
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Alberta
British Columbia
Manitoba
New Brunswick
Newfoundland and Labrador
Nova Scotia
Ontario
Prince Edward Island
Quebec
Saskatchewan
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Mexico
Note: An insect's reach is not limited by lines drawn on a map and therefore species may appear in areas, regions and/or states beyond those listed above as they are driven by environmental factors (such as climate change), available food supplies and mating patterns. Grayed-out selections indicate that the subject in question has not been reported in that particular territory. U.S. states and Canadian provinces / territories are clickable to their respective bug listings.