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

Mosquito-deterring plants for shady hillside
July 05, 2011 - We have a part to full shaded hill side/ native woodland area that was once covered with english ivy..we managed to get rid of all the ivy but now we are overtaken with violets..maybe they are even na...
view the full question and answer

Pest damage to Yaupon shrubs in Austin, TX
September 18, 2011 - I have noticed pest damage in our 4 ft. yaupon. There are circular holes eaten on 90% of the leaf growth. Trunk & branches look untouched and healthy. Could this be leafminers? How can I care for it?...
view the full question and answer

Which plants are resistant to dog urine in Ashmore, IL??
May 21, 2012 - Which native plants are resistant to dogs urinating on them?
view the full question and answer

Hibiscus plants being attacked by powdery mildew, or maybe mealy bugs in Austin, TX.
August 10, 2011 - I have three hibiscus plants planted outside about a foot apart from each other. The one that gets most of the sunlight is the worse off of the three. However, all three of them have white powdery stu...
view the full question and answer

Clicking heard under an Oak in near Bandera, TX
May 06, 2014 - Hi, I live on a ranch in TX outside of Bandera. We're covered with live oaks, spanish oak and cedar. Last week,as I stood under an oak, I heard a constant fairly loud clicking sound under and around ...
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