The conspicuous coloring and occasional large group of Small Milkweed Bugs may cause alarm when sighted, but this ubiquitous insect is not a troublemaker.
Small Milkweed Bugs are a type of Seed Bug whose larvae eat the seeds of milkweed. Milkweed is a plant, loved by butterflies, that contains a chemical that gets stored inside the young insect eating it. This helps prevent the insect from being eaten by small animals because the chemical makes animals gag, sick, or possibly worse. Removing the possibility of predation is a boon to a species' survival. As adults, Small Milkweed Bugs travel away from the host plant and even the juvenile diet, expanding the food sources to a variety of things. They consume everything from flower nectar, dead insects, and bug eggs, to other plant species' seeds.
It is common to see these bugs in a variety of areas, from urban to rural. They are also found with many friends on the same plant or nearby. Their red and black colors and pattern resemble that of Boxelder Bugs and Milkweed Bugs (regular sized), but they also have two small white dots on the lower part of the body. In warm regions, Small Milkweed Bugs are active year round. In colder climates, they are active from spring to autumn.
Scientific Name: Lygaeus kalmii
Size (Adult; Length): 11mm to 12mm (0.43in to 0.47in)
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.