Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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 - 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

QUESTION:

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.

ANSWER:

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

Pruning live oak in Austin
April 28, 2012 - Hi, We recently purchased a house in South Austin and there is a huge Live Oak Tree about 6 feet from the back door (so so so love it!) The only real issues I have so far are: 1. Needing to trim a ...
view the full question and answer

Aphids in pecan tree from Austin
July 14, 2012 - Last year at this time (midsummer) everything under the canopy of our 60+ year old pecan tree was covered with a sticky substance--plants, lawn furniture, concrete pool deck..Since we had never seen t...
view the full question and answer

Identity of tiny green spiders found in Sego lilies
July 14, 2015 - Hi - I'm wondering if you can identify for me the name of the tiny green spiders that can be found inside Sego Lilies (Calochortus nuttallii). I have a photo if that would be helpful. Thanks!! Ca...
view the full question and answer

Black walnut herbivory
June 13, 2005 - We moved to Texas just about a year ago and have loved it here. This past January we visited the Wildflower Center and obtained some black walnut seeds. Up until last night the tree was doing well p...
view the full question and answer

Tiny beetles eating a native plant in Austin, TX.
April 15, 2014 - 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, coreops...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.