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

Ants in outdoor plants in Austin
July 30, 2011 - Live in Austin. The problem is THIS. Ants have invaded our outside potted plants- mandevilla, begonia , lemon tree and violas. The colonies are devouring the roots it appears. Please give suggestions ...
view the full question and answer

Problem with Live Oaks in Mesa AZ
March 26, 2013 - I have two Evergreen Live Oaks in central Arizona. One is flourishing and getting new spring leaves from top to bottom. Its trunk is rough, has large grooves, and the spots where I've pruned look li...
view the full question and answer

Texas Ash secreting sap in Lockhart, TX
July 05, 2012 - I have what I believe is a Texas Ash in my front yard that is secreting a sap with what looks like some wounds on it with some white stuff and with black and red looking ants as well as it has a lot o...
view the full question and answer

Pests on Fan Tex Ash
July 30, 2015 - We planted a Fan Tex Ash last year on our property. It's doing very well, but there are a lot of large stink bugs, yellow jackets and red wasps on it daily. We cannot seem to find any information on ...
view the full question and answer

Plants ants avoid from McAllen TX
May 22, 2010 - Which native plants do ANTS avoid (are there?)? We have a big ant problem here. Thanks!
view the full question and answer

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