About Milkweed Bugs Large Milkweed Bug Small Milkweed Bug People named milkweed bugs after the plants they eat. Milkweed plants grow wild in fields and meadows. Milkweed bugs are found in southern Canada, the United States, and central Mexico. More milkweed bugs live in southern areas than in northern areas. Milkweed bugs often cannot survive cold northern winters. There are two kinds of milkweed bugs. Small milkweed bugs and large milkweed bugs. The Life Cycle of the Milkweed Bug Milkweed bugs go through simple metamorphosis. This life process has three stages: egg, nymph and adult. A milkweed bug’s body changes form three times during simple metamorphosis. The Egg Stage The milkweed bug’s life begins on a milkweed plant. An adult female lays a brood of eggs. A brood may have up to 15 eggs. The eggs are oval-shaped and bright orange/red. Each egg has three curved points near the tip which help the eggs stay attached to the milkweed plants. Eggs hatch in 3-6 days. Milkweed bugs then begin their second life stage. The Nymph Stage Milkweed bugs are in the nymph stage after they hatch. Nymphs lack some of the adult body parts. Nymphs grow large and develop adult body parts during this second stage. The nymphs feed on the milkweed plants’ flowers, pods, and seeds. The inside of the milkweed plant is full of a milky white juice called latex. The latex is gooey and hard to eat. The milkweed bugs have special mouthparts to help them suck up latex. Molting A nymph outgrows its exoskeleton as it eats. The nymph must shed this outer covering to grow larger. This process is called molting. The times between each molt is called an instar. Nymphs grow a little bigger after each molt. The develop wings and the coloring slowly changes until their bodies are mainly black. Nymphs molt five times before they become adults. After about 40 days, nymphs complete the final molt. Adult Adult milkweed bugs live for about one month. They change color as they grow older. Young adults have orange markings. The orange marking turn red. Adults eat milkweed plants during warm weather. During cold weather, the bugs leave the plants. They live in warmer places such as under leaves or logs. Some adult milkweed bugs fly south during fall and winter. They live longer in warm southern areas. How do you tell a boy from a girl? Mating Adult milkweed bugs mate to produce young. Adult males attract females by making a sound. To make this sound, the males rub their back wings over their abdomens. Milkweed bugs mate in late spring or early summer. The female then lays her eggs and starts the cycle all over again. Seed Bugs Milkweed bugs are part of the Lygacidae family. This type of bug eats plant seeds. Some members of this family use plant seeds to travel. Milkweed plant seeds float through the air on thin strings of the plant’s silk. Wind carries the floating seeds far away. Adult milkweed bugs may hang onto the seeds. Both the seed and the bug land in a new place. Not all milkweed bugs survive the trip to a new location. But if the seed grows into a plant, the life cycle of the bug continues in a new place.