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

Sunday - June 20, 2010

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pests, Cacti and Succulents
Title: Dealing with beetles feeding on cholla cactus
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Hi Mr. Smarty Pants, I bought a Cylindropuntia imbricata from the Wildflower center and it was growing like crazy. I recently noticed a lot of beetles feeding on it. Some are black and some are gray. I have searched online for what to do about it and have not found any suggestions. Can you help please?

ANSWER:

Jack Kelly and Mary Olsen in the Arizona Cooperative Extension publication, Problems and Pests of Agave, Aloe, Cactus and Yucca, lists the cactus longhorn beetle (Moneilema gigas) as a pest on pricklypear (Opuntia sp.) and cholla (Cylindropuntia sp.) cactus.  I am assuming these are the beetles on your cholla but the treatment solution would probably work no matter what the insects are.  Their suggested treatment is to hand pick the beetles from the plant.  This sounds a bit daunting considering the spines you would encounter on the cholla but you might try long needle-nose pliers or tweezers to grab them with.  Carry a wide-mouthed jar of salad oil (you could use old oil you have used for frying) to put them in.  This will kill them, of course, and you won't have sprayed nasty chemicals around to do the job.  You will probably need to do this over several days to get them all and then keep monitoring the cactus for new ones.  You can keep your bug-filled jar of oil and add the new ones to it and dispose of the bugs and oil in an eco-friendly manner when your jar is full or all the bugs appear to be gone.  (Don't flush the oil down the toilet or pour it down the drain!  See the City of Austin Water Utility's Stop the Grease Glob page for proper disposal methods.) Alternatively, you could use a jar of rubbing alcohol to drop them in.

Here are more photos and information on the cactus longhorn beetles.

 

More Pests Questions

Growths on Shumard Red Oak leaves from Katy TX
April 01, 2013 - Our beautiful Shumard Red Oak has developed lots of light green grape like growths on the leaves. Please inform us what this could be and how we should treat it?
view the full question and answer

What's causing holes in trunk of white oak tree in SouthBend IN?
June 10, 2013 - We have a huge White Oak in our backyard that is approx. 130 years old. This evening I became aware that there are several small holes around the trunk that appear to be oozing a dark sappy liquid. ...
view the full question and answer

Spots on non-native naval orange trees from Stockton CA
October 20, 2012 - I have two mature Navel Orange trees. One tree has developed spotty chlorophyl depleted areas that were not on the oranges when they were smaller. In addition, the oranges on both trees are smaller ,...
view the full question and answer

Snails in the ice plants in California
May 31, 2011 - Ice plants and snails. Every morning when I go outside I see at least 20 or more snails. Is there a certain way that I should have planted them that would have prevented them from destroying my plant?...
view the full question and answer

Dry browning leaves on Monterrey Oak from San Antonio
August 08, 2013 - I have a Monterey Oak that was planted four years ago and was doing great until the last two weeks. It has turned brown and the ends of the branches are very dry and brittle. The root flare was cov...
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
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center