Last updated: August 4, 2013
The best thing about showy milkweed is the cobalt milkweed beetle (Chrysochus cobaltinus). Wander through the meadow boardwalks looking for communities of the metallic blue bugs; some milkweed plants will have hundreds and some will only have two (others none). The beetle will eat the plant until the milkweed looks like a skeleton, but the plant will survive and go dormant until the next year.
Under the leaves of the milkweed plants you can look for monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) eggs that will become the larvae (caterpillar), the pupa (chrysalis), and finally the adult butterfly which continue north on the migration to Canada. These amazing delicate butterflies, through the course of four generations, will make it from Mexico to Canada where they will spend a warm summer, then reverse the route back to Mexico. Come migrate to Yosemite with the monarchs and look for cobalt milkweed beetles in the blossoming meadows. Sometimes in Yosemite looking down is even more picturesque than looking up.
Milkweed with Cathedral Rocks in distance (photo taken in Cook's Meadow)