The large milkweed bug, Oncopeltus fasciatus, is colored orange-red and black. It has a long proboscis and is a piercing sucking insect. It feeds on the seeds, leaves and stems of milkweed (Asclepias). It is found in small groups on milkweed often on the stems, leaves and on the seed pods. The bodies of milkweed bugs contain toxic compounds derived from the sap which they suck from milkweed. Milkweed bugs are true bugs (Hemiptera) . They are used as research insects because they are easy to use in the laboratory, have a short life cycle and are easy to manipulate.
Milkweed bugs are more of a nuisance than a threat to milkweed plants. They feed on the seeds by piercing the seed pod and can be found in all stages of growth on the plants in mid to late summer.