Common Milkweed is indeed common in Eliza Howell Park and many of the plants are in bloom now.
Milkweeds attract many insect species and I often seek out one of the milkweed patches to see who is visiting. Naturally, I look for Monarch Butterflies, the bug that made milkweed famous.
I am rarely disappointed.
The Monarch caught in this photo is sharing the flower with another insect that is just as closely tied to the milkweed plant as it is — the Red Milkweed Beetle.
Here is a better look at the beetle, on a neighboring plant.
These beetles eat milkweed leaves, buds, and flowers and they lay their eggs on stems. The larvae overwinter in the milkweed roots. They rightly have “milkweed” in their name.
Many of the insects on the milkweeds are pollinators. There are bees, of course.
Other butterflies, in addition to Monarchs, seek milkweed nectar. Here is an Eastern Tailed-blue.
Perhaps the most exciting milkweed visitor on a recent stop in the patch was a Golden Digger Wasp.
I, like many others, grew up being taught that Common Milkweed was a WEED, something to be removed because it competed with more desirable plants.
Now I seek out clusters of milkweed, where I move slowly, camera in hand, from one plant to another. Perhaps other park visitors wonder what that old guy is doing in the weeds, but, in my opinion, there are few better places for a nature lover to be in July than in a milkweed patch!