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
1 rating

Wednesday - April 20, 2011

From: Brierfield, AL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Pests
Title: Aluminum foil disorienting insects under plants from Brierfield AL
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Does covering the ground under plants frequently attacked by flea beetles with aluminum foil really disorient the insects? But does it also disorient beneficial insects?

ANSWER:

Okay, you've caught Mr. Smarty Plants (or this particular member of the Team) up short. Not only did we not know what flea beetles were, we had never heard of using aluminum foil as any sort of insect control. Since we are neither entomologists nor plant pathologists, we will try to learn as we find answers for you. From this article, Flea Beetle: Organic Control Options, we learned that it is mostly a pest of food crops. Since most food crops are either so hybridized or known to originate in other countries, they will fall out of our realm of expertise. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflowr Center is dedicated to the growth, propagation and protection of plants native not only to North America but to the areas in which those plants are being grown, because of the benefits of not needing as much supplemental watering and fertilizer.

One source we read said that aphids could be controlled to some extent by putting aluminum foil on the ground to reflect light back up on the undersides of leaves where aphids like to congregate. For aphids, we usually recommend a water spray to dislodge the insects and eggs. The University of California Integrated Pest Management site on Flea Beetles mentions both aluminum foil and sticky tape as deterrents.

Since there are so many different kinds of flea beetles and so many crops they visit and soils they can infest, we suggest that you contact the Alabama Cooperative Extension System for Bibb County and get their take on this subject.

 

More Pests Questions

Tip Dieback on Lonicera sempervirens
August 14, 2013 - I have a Lonicera sempervirens (coral honeysuckle) vine in Virginia which does well early in the season, but then around July, the very tips of its shoots (just the last 1-2 inches) wither, turn black...
view the full question and answer

What causes rock rose branches to snap off?
August 30, 2013 - my small texas rock rose branches keep snapping in the center. What is causing this and what can I do?
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

Do white-tailed deer consume King Ranch bluestem?
October 25, 2013 - Will white-tail deer in central Texas consume King Ranch bluestem ?
view the full question and answer

Controlling slugs in a Pacific Northwest strawberry patch
February 04, 2013 - Would love to plant various varieties of strawberries on a bank for erosion control and ground cover. How can we keep the slugs at bay? We are in the the Pacific Northwest
view the full question and answer

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