Yesterday we looked at common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)

Yesterday we looked at common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)

Yesterday we looked at common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca). Today, let's look at a critter that you're likely to find living on milkweed: Tetraopes tetrophthalmus, the red milkweed beetle!

Both the genus name and species name of this beetle mean "four eyes," which comes from an unusual feature of this beetle: their antennae are positioned so far forward on their heads that the base of the antennae bisect the beetle's eyes, giving it the appearance of four eyes!

Just like monarch butterfly caterpillars, red milkweed beetles use the toxic glycosides that are present in their host plant to protect themselves from predators. By eating milkweed, these beetles are able to make themselves taste terrible to predators. These beetles have another unusual defense: when they're startled, they make a shrill squeaking noise. Adorably enough, they're also said to make a purring noise when they're interacting with other milkweed beetles!

If you'd like to hear a purring, squeaking beetle yourself, they're not terribly hard to find right now. Just look for a patch of milkweed and poke around a bit. With their bright aposematic coloration, these beetles are pretty easy to spot! #BenInNature

This post brought to you by VMNH Corporate Supporter King's Grant Retirement Community.

Social distancing can be difficult, but it presents a great opportunity to become reacquainted with nature. While he is working from home, Administrator of Science Ben Williams is venturing outdoors each day to record a snapshot of the unique sights that can be found in the natural world.

If you discover something in nature that you would like help identifying, be sure to message us right here on Facebook with a picture (please include location and date of picture) and we'll have our experts help you identify it!

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