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
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

Replacements for yuccas from Georgetown TX
August 07, 2013 - I have lost some softleaf and variegated yucca to a beetle grub destroying the root system - like the Agave snout beetle does. I have put an insecticidal drench on my remaining plants, but suspect wi...
view the full question and answer

Tulip trees losing bark in OH
July 11, 2011 - We have two tulip trees in our yard that are losing their bark at the base of the trunk. I am careful with the mower keeping away from the tree when I mow. What could the problem be and what can I d...
view the full question and answer

Tree with brown spots on leaves containing caterpillars
July 14, 2011 - We have a new little tree we planted in our yard and I went over to admire it and on each leaf there is a brown spot in which little worms are living. They are alive and moving around in the pocket th...
view the full question and answer

Pest damage to Yaupon shrubs in Austin, TX
September 18, 2011 - I have noticed pest damage in our 4 ft. yaupon. There are circular holes eaten on 90% of the leaf growth. Trunk & branches look untouched and healthy. Could this be leafminers? How can I care for it?...
view the full question and answer

Something dripping from red oak in Austin
July 30, 2012 - There is a large red oak outside my apartment. The leaves are shiny and covered with what appears to be oil. The ground underneath is coated with this also. When I parked under the tree my car beca...
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