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?


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


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?


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

Killing oak sprouts from El Paso TX
August 16, 2011 - I want to know how to kill oak root sprouts and seedlings. Very dense and out-of-control in huge area of front lawn. I had tree cut down and I still cannot get rid of them. They're only getting wors...
view the full question and answer

What's invading my bermuda grass?
June 11, 2013 - Our grass is being totally overrun by this weed.(I don't know what the name is identify it by the description. It is in Bermuda grass and the only way to describe the weed is to say it looks like big...
view the full question and answer

Unknown pest of Texas Mountain Laurel from Round Rock TX
May 24, 2012 - I have a Texas Mountain Laurel that is being denuded from the top down by something unseen. It's not the Genista moth larvae, as there are no worms and no webbing visible. The only clue that it might...
view the full question and answer

Perennial plants resistant to cutter ants in Aransas Pass, TX
January 12, 2010 - We are moving to Aransas Pass, Texas. Are there any perennial plants resistant to cutter ants?
view the full question and answer

Problem with mesquite tree limbs
June 13, 2014 - i keep finding some smaller branches of my mesquite tree in the turf area around the tree. when looking at the cut ends, they appear to have a smooth cut around the circumference of the limb about 1/...
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.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center