This pretty little beetle is called a Swamp Milkweed Beetle (Labidomera clivicollis).They are found throughout the Eastern United States and into Northern Mexico. These are medium-sized beetles that can vary considerably in their appearance. Typically they will be bluish or bluish-green in color with orangish colored wings. Usually there is a large blackish colored "X" across the midline of the wings. (Pictured below). Although they can have a lot of variance in the pattern, such as the one in the first and third pictures.
(Photo By: Steve Scott)
The adults will overwinter in leaf litter at the base of milkweed plants. In late spring they become active again and begin feeding. Soon they will seek mates and the females will lay her yellowish-colored eggs in small clusters on the underside of the leaves of the milkweed plant. It is not uncommon for females to mate with several males during the breeding season. The adults will die shortly after egg laying. The eggs will hatch in about a week and the young larvae will feed on the leaves of milkweed. Once they reach full size they will drop to the ground and pupate. In the mid-summer months these adults will appear and the cycle begins again. The third generation overwinters and repeats the cycle the following spring.
These beetles can be found almost anywhere there are milkweed plants. They are especially fond of Swamp Milkweed, as their name indicates. It is possible they are attracted to the orange blooming Butterfly Weed that we typically plant in our backyard gardens. The adults will feed on the foliage and flowers of milkweed, whereas the larvae feed on the leaves. Both the adults and the larvae have a habit of cutting side slits into the leaves or stems of milkweed to help drain the sticky milky-white substance of the plant to help reduce it at feeding sites. I can attest to the stickiness of this white goo, I broke open a leaf last summer to partake of the white substance, only to find that my lips had been effectively glued shut. Which is a complete nuisance to someone who likes to talk as much as I do. Although my husband found the whole situation hilarious, and I'm sure was delighted to have a reprieve from my constant chatter....