Adult: dark gray to black with broad orange or red band on forewing, forming an "X" shape that doesn't quite meet in the middle; head black with dull red spot on top, sometimes extending down onto face; pronotum with red transverse band, bordered anteriorly by two black spots, and posteriorly by two black semicircular lobes; membranous portion of forewing in eastern specimens all black, in western specimens with large white spots and white posterior margin
Nymph: abdomen all red in young nymphs, developing black spots with age; wingpads black, lengthening with age; pronotum red with two black diagonal markings
throughout US & so. Canada
Fields, meadows containing milkweed and other flowers
Adults suck nectar from flowers of various herbaceous plants, and also feed on milkweed seeds(?). Also reported to be scavengers and predators, especially in spring when milkweed seeds are scarce. They have been reported feeding on honey bees, monarch caterpillars and pupae, and dogbane beetles, among others. (Root 1986
examples of scavenging
Eggs are laid on milkweed in spring. One or more generations per year. Adults overwinter.