Caution
Red Milkweed Beetle ( Tetraopes tetraophthalmus)  on Swamp Milkweed ( Asclepias incarnata )

Red Milkweed Beetle (Tetraopes tetraophthalmus) on Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata)

Those who tell their own story you know must be listened to with caution.
— Jane Austin (1775-1817), English novelist

The high today reached ninety-five degrees. I again chose to avoid prolonged time outdoors. I had planned to make an image of the bittersweet nightshade (Solanum dulcamara) growing in our hedge - its deep purple flowers with their bright yellow centers and clusters of berries are striking - but then I noticed the pokeweed (Phytolacca americana). The poke looks so lovely, I thought I might make a photograph of its lacy white racemes.  Oh, but then...

I noticed a leafhopper on the swamp milkweed...because I was watching my favorite little visitor, the red milkweed beetle, scurrying around on its leaves. Red milkweed beetles are the prettiest little guys - dark red with black spots. Their coloring - aposematic coloring - cautions predators they will not taste very good. Why? The same reason monarchs are not appealing to predators...

Consuming milkweed allow both monarchs and red milkweed beetles to store toxic cardenolides, thus making them distasteful to would-be assailants. Their pretty colors attract me. Although, I've no intention of eating them! 

Maybe I will return to that nightshade tomorrow? Or, the poke. Unless something else catches my attention...which is quite possible.

Jessica Allen explores the fields and forests of Pennsylvania with her artist-husband, Michael Allen, and their son, Benjamin. She shares her observations through words and pictures of everyday magic and beauty she sees in her world.