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Debbie Hadley

Friday Fact - The Milkweed Community

By January 4, 2013

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Most everyone knows that monarch caterpillars feed only on milkweed plants, and that the monarchs orange and black colors serve as a warning to predators. Monarch butterflies carry toxins in their bodies, which they obtain from the noxious milkweed they eat as caterpillars. But many people don't know there's an entire community of insects that rely on milkweed as a host plant, and most of these insects also use aposematic coloration to warn predators of their unpalatable taste? A number of black and red insects live on milkweed, too. Several kinds of milkweed beetles (order Coleoptera) and milkweed bugs (order Hemiptera) rely on milkweed's toxins to make them unpalatable to predators.

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