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small milkweed bug

Last year I had lots of monarch butterfly caterpillars on my milkweed (and subsequently, lots of lovely monarch butterflies). This year all I see is loads of small milkweed bugs (who are chewing up and stripping the plants just like the caterpillars did). Are the small milkweed bugs eating monarch butterfly eggs? Should I spray my milkweed with soapy water to get rid of them? The number of monarch butterflies in my garden this year is much, much less..... Help!

Wildlife Expert - Ken Burton

No, milkweed bugs don't eat butterfly eggs. In fact, they don't even eat milkweed leaves, they eat the seeds, so if your milkweeds are being chewed up and stripped, something else is doing it. Milkweed bugs and monarch caterpillars should be able to coexist, but even if they weren't, milkweed bugs are native insects just as much as monarchs are. Nature is dynamic, and though you may have a preference for monarchs, that doesn't justify depriving another native species of its home and food. Milkweed bugs are interesting and pretty in their own right, so perhaps this is the year for learning to appreciate them.

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