En Espa—ol

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
2 ratings

Thursday - June 30, 2011

From: Washington, DC
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Pests, Herbs/Forbs, Wildflowers
Title: Something eating Monarda didyma in Washington DC
Answered by: Barbara Medford


Please Help, I have a couple of Bee Balm, Jacob Cline, plants, whose leave are being eaten, by what I do not know. None of the nurseries around here seem to have ever heard of this happening to this particular plant. I took some front and back photos to show you if that would help.


Sorry, we do not have the computer infrastructure to accept photographs, nor do we have any plant named just "Bee Balm" in our Native Plant Database. There are a number of species of the genus Monarda that have a common name of beebalm.  The 'Jacob Cline' you refer to is no doubt a trade name, but is the native Monarda didyma (Scarlet beebalm. It has been selected for darker reds, which also are thought to be more mildew resistant. The funny thing is, although this is bee balm, bees are slow to get to it, because they don't see the color red. The butterflies see red just fine, clustering around the fragrant plant, and the bees find it soon enough.

Monarda is a member of the Lamiaceae (mint) family, so we are looking for pests of mint. As to what is eating your beebalm, the main problem we found was mildew, but that just turns the leaves and blossoms dark, no eating involved. We found papers from universities on some of the insect pests, and will link you to them. We urge you not to use any poison sprays, but treat with sprays of water or even soapy water, in order to not also kill the beneficial insects that visit your monarda, like butterflies, ladybugs and bees.

Monarda Plant Health Problems from the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station

Mint Flea Beetles from Oregon State University


From the Image Gallery

Scarlet beebalm
Monarda didyma

Scarlet beebalm
Monarda didyma

Scarlet beebalm
Monarda didyma

More Wildflowers Questions

More on bluebonnets
January 09, 2007 - My wife has recently contacted and met relatives from Texas (her father was a war baby born in the 1940's). Her new found Aunt Sarah has kindly given me some Bluebonnet seeds to plant "a corner of T...
view the full question and answer

Native flowers for September wedding in Kittanning PA
October 27, 2010 - I am planting flowers for a wedding on September 17th 2010. What flowers bloom best. Looking for blues,whites and pinks.
view the full question and answer

Pollinators for Washington State
June 26, 2015 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I am removing invasive knotweed in the Pacific Northwest and I would like to provide native plant alternatives that would flower and provide pollen in the late summer/fall f...
view the full question and answer

Indoor and Outdoor, Fast Growing Plants for California
October 22, 2015 - Iím looking for the best plants for me. I have small kids so they would have to be safe. I would like them to be able to grow inside or outside. I would love for them to grow fast and reproduce fast.
view the full question and answer

More on bluebonnets
March 14, 2003 - How did the bluebonnet get its name?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center