En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Tuesday - April 15, 2014

From: Austin , TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pests
Title: Tiny beetles eating a native plant in Austin, TX.
Answered by: Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

Help! Found plant devoured in my wildflower garden! Covered with literally thousand of small black bronze beetles. They are on other plants but the other plants (native poppies, coneflower, coreopsis, etc) look fine. I don't even remember what this plant was & can't recognize it now. I live about 2 miles from the Wildflower Center. Thanks!

ANSWER:

There are a number of different beetles that fit the description you've given.  Flea beetles and leaf beetles come first to mind, but there are quite a few species of those as well.  Many of these beetles are quite specific to the plants they eat.  That might be why they've decimated one plant, but not its neighbors even though they're all over them.

We think the insect and plant you've described is Coreopsis Leaf Beetle, Phaedon desotonis on Tickseed, Coreopsis sp.

It is definitely helpful to know which host plant is being eaten.  If that is not possible, you might take a sample of the Travis County Agrilife Extension Service office.  Your county agent can also advise you on what control measures, if any, you might want to employ.

If you can take very sharply-focused close-up images of a beetle, you might submit them to Bugguide.net for identification.  Their ID success rate is pretty high.

 

More Pests Questions

Spots on non-native naval orange trees from Stockton CA
October 20, 2012 - I have two mature Navel Orange trees. One tree has developed spotty chlorophyl depleted areas that were not on the oranges when they were smaller. In addition, the oranges on both trees are smaller ,...
view the full question and answer

Dandelions in bluebonnets in Bastrop TX
May 31, 2012 - I have a 20'x60' front yard area where I planted bluebonnets. It has become horrifically inundated with dandelions. How do I eradicate the dandelions while preserving the bluebonnets ? Thanks ...
view the full question and answer

Black coloration on Star Magnolia is probably sooty mold.
November 21, 2008 - I have a star magnolia where 90% of the bark has turned black. It almost looks burned. The tree has decent buds set for next spring. What is causing the bark to turn black?
view the full question and answer

Identity of small objects that look like tiny pecans
November 14, 2013 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I am doing my science fair project on acorns. Last year I measured how many acorns and other nature-y stuff fell into a baby pool from a live oak tree in my backyard every ...
view the full question and answer

Plants good for repelling bugs in Austin, TX
April 18, 2007 - I need help on what type of plants or herbs are good for keeping bugs away from the house and also something that would be good for in the house for bugs?
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center