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Milkweed Leaf Beetle - Labidomera clivicollis Milkweed contains poisonous compounds called cardiac glycosides. Monarchs (and some other insects) that feed on milkweed can tolerate and store these chemicals, thus making them poisonous to predators. Monarchs, in addition to other milkweed-eating insects, have black and orange warning colors (aposematic) to warn predators that they taste gross.  <br />
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Birds that eat an insect containing cardiac glycosides will basically end up with a really bad stomachache. Once a bird (or other predator) has ingested and gotten sick from eating a black and orange insect, such as a monarch, it learns to avoid any and all insects with similar coloration.<br />
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Milkweed leaf beetles eat milkweed and have black and orange coloring, BUT they do not absorb the cardiac glycosides from the milkweed like a monarch would. So, they are not actually poisonous to predators. However, insect-eating birds don&rsquo;t know this, and the beetles successfully deter predation simply because of their coloration and association with milkweed.<br />
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Habitat: Swamp milkweed Geotagged,Labidomera clivicollis,Milkweed leaf beetle,Summer,United States,beetle,milkweed,milkweed beetle Click/tap to enlarge Promoted

Milkweed Leaf Beetle - Labidomera clivicollis

Milkweed contains poisonous compounds called cardiac glycosides. Monarchs (and some other insects) that feed on milkweed can tolerate and store these chemicals, thus making them poisonous to predators. Monarchs, in addition to other milkweed-eating insects, have black and orange warning colors (aposematic) to warn predators that they taste gross.

Birds that eat an insect containing cardiac glycosides will basically end up with a really bad stomachache. Once a bird (or other predator) has ingested and gotten sick from eating a black and orange insect, such as a monarch, it learns to avoid any and all insects with similar coloration.

Milkweed leaf beetles eat milkweed and have black and orange coloring, BUT they do not absorb the cardiac glycosides from the milkweed like a monarch would. So, they are not actually poisonous to predators. However, insect-eating birds don’t know this, and the beetles successfully deter predation simply because of their coloration and association with milkweed.

Habitat: Swamp milkweed

    comments (6)

  1. Great shot, great info! Posted 2 months ago
    1. Thanks Ferdy. Posted 2 months ago
  2. So lovely! Posted 2 months ago
    1. Thanks :) Posted 2 months ago
  3. What a gorgeous little beetle Christine , love the colors.
    Posted 2 months ago
    1. Thanks, Paul! This was the first time I've gotten a shot of this species. Posted 2 months ago

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The milkweed leaf beetle is a species of beetle from the family Chrysomelidae.

Similar species: Beetles
Species identified by Christine Young
View Christine Young's profile

By Christine Young

All rights reserved
Uploaded Aug 19, 2020. Captured Aug 13, 2020 14:51 in Wells Reserve at Laudholm, 342 Laudholm Farms Rd, Wells, ME 04090, USA.
  • Canon EOS 90D
  • f/5.0
  • 1/166s
  • ISO125
  • 100mm