Ah, were you expecting a orange and black beetle? While I have seen the adult of this species a few times in our backyard, last night was the first time I saw its larva. As you can see, this slimy looking creature was actively eating the margin of a common milkweed leaf. I knew it must be one of the few insects that specializes on milkweed. My first guess that it might be the larva of a milkweed beetle, but after doing a little research, I believe this is the larvae of the swamp milkweed leaf beetle, Labidoderma clivicollis. It looks quite different from the adult! Looking at it in this photo, I really should have touched the beetle- it appears to be wet- is the shiny body sticky? Slippery? Hard? Gooey? I try not to disturb the animals I photograph, but in this case, I wish I would have explored more.
While I've photographed countless numbers of species in our backyard, now that I have started the backyard biodiversity project (let's use BBP for short), I'm going to reset and start from zero. This is backyard biodiversity project species #1.