|Red milkweed beetle (Tetraopes tetrophthalmus)|
And speaking of successful lifeforms, forget the composites, (see bull's eye) beetles are the true champions. Most sources estimate over 300,000 known species. That's a three, followed by five zeros. I've read it might go as high as 400,000 species. That's a four and five aughts.
If you go to South America, spend time in a tropical rainforest, look under a few rotting logs or turn over a leaf or two, you'll probably discover a new species yourself. You can name it after your mother (in my case Helen) or high school biology teacher (in my case Ruth).
One found on plants in the milkweed family is simply called red milkweed beetle. A herbivore, its body is full of the unpalatable toxins in intakes in milkweed sap, which looks like Elmer's glue. The insect’s red and black coloration is a warning to any would-be predators.
“I taste bad and will make you sick. Why don’t you eat a lovely green caterpillar instead?”
It’s an example of aposematism (from “apo” meaning away and “sematic” meaning sign), i.e. it’s a warning sign to stay away! I'll make you puke!
-Photo taken at Ijams Nature Center.