En EspaŅol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - Dealing with beetles feeding on cholla cactus

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 Cacti and Succulents Questions

Suitable container plants for Austin
October 23, 2012 - Hi, I see some info on native house plants, but not much. I live in an apartment that doesn't get much direct sun (maybe 2 hours a day) -- is there anything for me native-wise (Austin) if I have to h...
view the full question and answer

Damage to Agave in New Braunfels, TX
August 21, 2008 - In a flower box, I have an Agave on which the leaves have been damaged. It looks as if a deer rubbed his antlers on it. Is there any animal in south central Texas that would try to eat an agave?
view the full question and answer

Non-native jade plant from Pauline SC
August 24, 2012 - Do jade plants grow in South Carolina; if, so where?
view the full question and answer

Soaptree yucca falling over in Mesa AZ
July 24, 2013 - My soaptree yucca is about 5 ft tall and has fallen over. Does this plant require staking for I thought not, or is something else going on with it?
view the full question and answer

Why has yucca not bloomed from Sacramento CA
May 03, 2012 - I looked for an answer to my question on your list but did not find one. We have had a yucca plant that has never bloomed since we planted it about 8 years ago. I has grown tall (6-7 feet) and we ha...
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