The red-femured milkweed borer (Tetraopes femoratus
) specializes in eating milkweeds. The larvae bore into the roots; the adults chew the foliage and leaves. The bright red is a warning: Like other insects that eat milkweeds, this beetle ingests milkweed’s toxic chemicals and becomes unpalatable or sickening to predators. “Tetraopes” means “four-eyed,” and beetles in this genus are sometimes called “four-eyed beetles.” Each eye is divided by an antenna base, making it look like two. A similar species is the red milkweed beetle (T. tetrophthalmus
), whose antennae are all black (lacking the white rings), legs are all black (not partially reddish), and commonly has larger black dots. Look for these milkweed beetles in prairies and roadsides where milkweeds are abundant.