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Answer Key
Who's Who in the Milkweed Patch?
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Paper Wasp

Tachinid Fly


Organism A:
Although the adults feed on nectar, the larvae of this insect are carnivorous. They only eat moth and butterfly caterpillars, including monarchs. The adults do not attack their prey by stinging. Instead, they repeatedly bite the caterpillars until they are a manageable size, and then carry pieces back to the paper nest to feed their hungry young.
Organism B:
This clear-winged, brown-eyed organism is a parasite of moths and butterflies, including monarchs. The adult lays its eggs on the caterpillar. When the egg hatches, the maggot burrows through the caterpillar's skin and feeds on its internal organs. The monarch caterpillar dies as the larva of this insect emerges.
Organism C:
These tiny insects have plump, pear-shaped bodies. They feed by sucking plant juices, and they excrete droplets of a sugary waste product called honeydew. Large numbers feed together in colonies. They are often called plant lice. When these insects are abundant they can damage the milkweed plant.

Milkweed Tussock Moth


Milkweed Beetle

Organism D:
This organism lays its eggs on milkweed in clusters of a dozen or more eggs. When they hatch, the caterpillars feed together on the same milkweed plant in groups or "colonies." Becaues they feed together, the caterpillars cause noticeable leaf damage to milkweed. These caterpillars are typically found in the late summer.

Organism E:
This species uses milkweed at all stages of its life cycle. The adult lays it eggs on milkweed only. The larvae of this species are herbivorous, and milkweed is the only food the caterpillars can eat. The adults of this species are nectivorous. They drink nectar from many species of flowers, including milkweed.

Organism F:
This red and black herbivore eats milkweed, and is named after its host plant. Like monarchs, its coloration warns and protects this insect from predators. The toxins in milkweed provide a chemical defense. This insect belongs to the world's largest order of insects, the Coleoptera.


Milkweed Bug

Bumble Bee

Organism G:
This organism is not an insect, but it is an insect predator. It can eat a wide variety of insects, inclucing monarchs. To feed, it injects venom into its prey. Next it pumps digestive juices that turn the prey's body tissues into a liquid that the creature can consume by sucking. If you find an empty monarch egg, or a larva with only its exoskeleton remaining, it may have been killed and eaten by this 8-legged predator.
Organism H:
This insect's name includes "milkweed," the plant on which it spends all stages of its life. Like monarchs, its bold orange and black warning colors protect it from predators. This insect is classified as a "true bug," with characteristic sucking mouthparts. Milkweed is this bug's primary food source. However, when milkweed is scarce, it can shift from being a herbivore to a scavenger and predator.
Organism I:
Milkweed flowers are among the many this fuzzy, nectivorous insect visits for food and to gather pollen for its young. You can often see this pollinator doing its job. Look closely at its legs where the pollen grains are stored in pollen sacs. Rarely, you can see this creature carrying the saddlebag shaped 'pollinarium" of the milkweed flower.