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?

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
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

Friday - August 22, 2008

From: Old Hickory, TN
Region: Southeast
Topic: Diseases and Disorders
Title: Insect pests in Gaillardia aristata in Tennessee
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I have a couple of 'Oranges and Lemons' blanketflower plants in a butterfly and hummingbird native flower garden that is the foundation planting of my house. They bloom prolifically for me all summer and well into the fall, and seem to be quite popular with the butterflies. However, this year and last year they have been severly damaged by what I am pretty sure are leaf miners. The leaves now have significantly more white/pale yellow than green, and the white areas are very papery, thin, and almost see-through. Also, many of the badly damaged leaves burn, and completely shrivel up. By the end of the summer they start to look very raggedy, although the continued blooms are still very nice and drawing butterflies. What, if anything, can I do to prevent this damage without harming the butterflies? I saw a systemic granule that is supposed to protect against leaf miners - but it is harmful to caterpillars. Do any butterflies or moths use the blanketflower as a larval food? Would the systemic make the nectar poisonous as well? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

ANSWER:

Gaillardia aristata (common gaillardia) is not distributed naturally in Tennessee, but is easily spread by cultivation. The "Oranges and Lemons" is no doubt a trade name, possibly for some color selection, of the blanketflower.

From your description, it appears you are correct that a leafminer is causing the damage to the leaves on your plants. More specifically, we believe the culprit is the Blotch Leafminer, named for the appearance of the tunnels made by the larvae in the leaves. Some of the main hosts of the Blotch Leafminer are members of the Asteraceae family, including Gaillardia. Heavy infestations may kill some leaves, but most damage is simply aesthetic.

There is a biological control of these pests, in the form of a number of parasitic wasps that attack leafminers. We urge you to avoid chemical controls, as they would not only take out the parasitic wasps that help control the leafminers, but also be damaging to other beneficial insects, and certainly to the butterflies and bees you are hoping to attract. Good cultural practices in your garden, good drainage and removing damaged leaves and destroying them, will also help to discourage the leafminers.

 

More Diseases and Disorders Questions

Mildew and rot in navel orange tree in California
September 02, 2008 - I have a great navel orange tree that seems to have two problems. One of them looks like powdery mildew and the other is some kind of black rot. I have sprayed it several times to no avail. I live ...
view the full question and answer

Dying foliage on non-native Otto Luyken Laurel from Georgetown KY
April 09, 2014 - I have 5 luken laurel scrubs planted around foundation. They have done very well until this last winter..the foilage is now brown and crispy. Will they come back? Do I need to prune back the damage...
view the full question and answer

What to do about volunteer trees growing beneath a large live oak tree in Austin, TX
January 08, 2013 - We have a large live oak tree. Several volunteer trees are growing directly underneath it and into its branches. I want to cut them down if they are going to hurt the long term health of the live oak....
view the full question and answer

Hypoxylon Canker removal in Austin TX
March 26, 2012 - I have several oaks that appear to have been killed by Hypoxylon atropunctatum from last summer's drought. Is it safe to cut them down in March or does that risk spreading Oak Wilt too. Should I ...
view the full question and answer

Cedar trees dying in CO
July 18, 2011 - We have mature cedar trees at the home we bought in SW Colorado. The large ones have begun to die. Can too much water kill a cedar tree and is there anything I can do to keep them alive?
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.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center