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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.


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