En Español

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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

Puppy-proof plants in Denton TX
June 04, 2010 - I recently got a couple of puppies that stay outside in a fenced off area of the backyard. Of course, they love trying to dig under the fence and get out. I placed cement landscaping border stones alo...
view the full question and answer

White spots on Hibiscus leaves
August 06, 2008 - My hibiscus trees have white spots or splotches on the leaves. What is it and what can I do to get rid of it? Also, the birds are eating my tomatoes faster than i can grow them. I've used the owl &...
view the full question and answer

Pest Dug Up and Ate Hypoxis Corms
August 06, 2015 - After years of no problems, something recently dug up and ate all my Yellow star-grass corms. What is attracted to them and is there an organic way to prevent it?
view the full question and answer

Problems with mountain laurel from Sunrise Beach TX
August 29, 2012 - In Llano Co., TX near lake LBJ, crushed granite type soil - my 4 - 5 year old TX Mtn. Laurels (2), about the size of large wheel barrows, are turning very pale, dropping leaves and on 1 the seed pods ...
view the full question and answer

Cause of yellowing buffalo grass (Bouteloua dactyloides)
June 07, 2008 - We are getting large yellow areas in our buffalo grass lawn and think this is probably due to grub worms. Are grub worms the likely culprit and if so, what is the best way to get rid of them? We don...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center