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

Tiny holes oozing sap from Austin
August 22, 2012 - My ash tree becomes loaded with butterflies on the trunk. At closer inspection, I see they are drinking sap which is coming from small holes in the trunk. Are the butterflies creating the holes? I ...
view the full question and answer

Trumpet creeper with ants in Belchertown MA
July 23, 2011 - My Campsis Vine is having one of the maximum blossom years it gets after a good pruning. This year, I have black carpenter ants on the blossoms and the flowers are rotting from the edges down on some...
view the full question and answer

Problems with iguanas in Ft. Lauderdale FL
August 04, 2009 - I live on the intracoastal waterway near Ft. Lauderdale,FL and I am having problems with iguana. They will not eat lantana or buttercups; however is there a poisonous ground cover, preferable with fl...
view the full question and answer

Problem with Live Oaks in Mesa AZ
March 26, 2013 - I have two Evergreen Live Oaks in central Arizona. One is flourishing and getting new spring leaves from top to bottom. Its trunk is rough, has large grooves, and the spots where I've pruned look li...
view the full question and answer

Life with Voles
May 12, 2013 - Voles! We live next to a park and wildlife area: voles constantly invade our garden. We've tried, and cannot eliminate them: rather, hope to plant native forbs and shrubs they (might) avoid. Our site...
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
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center