Same here. We had a discussion on Milkweed Viability on Dplex-L yesterday:
"The milkweed beetles are sucking the life right out of those seeds.http://bugguide.net/node/view/504
Oncopeltus fasciatus - Large Milkweed Bug
I've found if you wait until the pods yellow that you can give that center part just a bit of pressure and if the seeds are ready it will crack. Then I just pull the whole seed pod out using the top of the fluff. It stays together if they are not dry. Then I push the seeds off by going down towards the sharp end. The seeds come right off. You can tell that they are ready by the fact that they are brown. Mona"
"Beetles vs bugs
Milkweeds have both. Mona has given a url for one (http://bugguide.net/node/view/504
Oncopeltus fasciatus - Large Milkweed Bug) of the two seed-eating bugs that one finds on milkweed pods. The other is Lygaeus kalmii - the small milkweed bug (http://bugguide.net/node/view/460
). This insect is similar in appearance to the boxelder bugs that try to enter our houses each fall (http://www.extension.umn.edu/distributi ... g0998.html
). If you dig into the life histories of these insects, you will find that the large milkweed bug migrates and the small milkweed bug feeds on more than milkweed seeds.
Because both of these species pierce the seed coat with their rostrums and feed on the seeds, it is best to avoid collecting any open pods or any where you can see adults or nymphs of these species.
Milkweed beetles - there are a number of species but the most common belong to the genus Tetraopes and, of these, the species seen by most of you is Tetraopes tetrophthalmus (http://www.cirrusimage.com/beetles_red_milkweed.htm
- the other species are shown at this site as well). The adults feed on foliage and the larvae feed on the taproots and rhizomes of various milkweed species.
As to seed viability - I'm not sure what Fred is asking but I assume that he is referring to the fact that some seeds lack an endosperm (Endosperm is the tissue produced under the seeds of most flowering plants around the time of fertilization. It surrounds the embryo and provides nutrition ...). Yes, many seeds are not viable due to the lack of a well developed endosperm - so, technically they can also be referred to as infertile. In milkweeds infertile seeds are most often seen in small pods and those that are malformed. A few seeds in some well formed pods may also be inviable/infertile and these can usually be recognized because they are not "filled out" or appear sunken.
Viability is sometimes used to describe the proportion of seeds that are viable in germination