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?


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 - May 27, 2014

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pests
Title: Infestation of shiny red and blue/black beetles
Answered by: Nan Hampton and Valerie Bugh


I have an infestation of 1 cm long shiny red and blue/black beetles. They have red heads with black eyes and antenna, 2 (?) red spots on their sides, and a bluish black body. Before I kill them with insecticidal soap, I want to make sure that they are not beneficial. Thank you.


Mr Smarty Plants consulted with an entomologist, Valerie Bugh, to give you the best answer to your potential pest problem.  She said:

"Without knowing the host plant, location, or seeing a photo, this could be a description of a number of true bugs or beetles. Since the term "infestation" usually means a large number of individuals, there is an excellent chance that the insects are NOT predatory but herbivorous. One exception: some predatory stink bugs, which can be black/red, prefer to remain in groups. If the plant is a personal favorite and is declining in health, then it would make a gardener feel better to kill off the insects."

However, knowing that you live in the Central Texas area she thought that this might be Asphaera lustrans, a flea beetle that likes salvias, among other things. They may sometimes be rather numerous but never seem to do much damage.  Here is another photo and information from Nature Search.


More Pests Questions

Problems with non-native Banana Shrub from Houston
May 01, 2014 - My 7' beloved Banana Shrub (magnolia) has white dots on top of the leaves and nasty black stuff covering the backside of the leaves. The plant is dropping leaves. What can I do to save it? I has bee...
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

Protection of Mountain Laurel from Pyralid or Genista moth caterpillars
May 28, 2006 - I have a Texas Mountain Laurel. Every year it is attacked by caterpillars. They form a bag for lack of a better word on the ends of the branches destroying the blooms for the following year. PLEASE...
view the full question and answer

Problems with beheaded non-native Gerbera daisies in Cooperstown, NY
May 31, 2009 - I planted my gerberas in my perennial bed - as usual. Something is beheading them and leaving the blooms along side the plant. Some of the bloom is eaten but most of it is right there. I have t...
view the full question and answer

Weeping Willow Problem in Texas
September 04, 2014 - Our weeping willow's leaves are turning yellow and falling off. We are also seeing some brown, gnarly looking pods on some of the stems can you tell us what's happening?
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.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center