These are a cluster of red bugs on a developing pod of Swamp Milkweed.
Are these friend or foe?
(This message has been cross-posted at the Winter Sowing Forum.)
Those are nymphs of the Milkweed Bug. They feed on milkweed plants (and seeds).
Rx: Flick them into soapy water.
Whether you need do anything at all depends on what you consider that Milkweed. Since these are not going to harm any other plant in the garden there is no real need, necessarily, to do anything.
I don't do anything, in my garden bennies and butterflies have to share the reasources ;-)