En Español

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
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - February 02, 2012

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pests, Trees
Title: Box elder beetles in Austin TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We have an large infestation of box elder beetles. They are crawling all over the yard and sometimes on the outside of the house. When you walk in the yard a cloud of them rises up and fills the air. They are annoying and land all over you. Can you recommend how best to eliminate box elder beetles or someone who know how to eliminate them?

ANSWER:

 Acer negundo (Ash-leaf maple) or Box elder, is native to Austin, and the seeds on the female are apparently a main food for the bug. University of Wisconsin article Box Elder Bugs discusses ways to deal with them that do not necessarily include pesticides. They will be attracted to warm, sunny places to overwinter, sometimes ending up inside the house. Some of the information we looked at recommended getting rid of any female box elder trees you have. Everything we read said that the bugs don't harm the trees, but may cause disfiguring of the fruits of some trees. Mainly they are, as you say, a nuisance.

Although we didn't see this particular explanation for their presence now, in mid-winter, we are wondering if the very mild winter we have had could have caused them to overwinter without having to take shelter anywhere. Where is a good hard freeze when you need it? We also saw a reference to the bug reproducing in 10-year cycles, but didn't find out where in that cycle we would be right now.

We are native plant people, not entomologists, so beyond referring you to articles that discuss the bug, we are afraid we can't help. If this is a common problem in your yard, it probably is for others in the area. We would suggest you contact the Extension Education Office for Travis County.

 

From the Image Gallery


Box elder
Acer negundo

More Trees Questions

Is Lemon Cypress toxic?
August 15, 2012 - Is the Lemon Cypress toxic?
view the full question and answer

Source for Pyrus ioensis var. Texana
July 09, 2015 - Any idea where I can find Pyrus (now Malus) ioensis var. texana for sale around the Austin area?
view the full question and answer

Shade Tree for Baltimore Patio
September 11, 2013 - I am looking for a deep-rooted shade tree (or a tall shrub) for near my patio in Baltimore, Md. I desire shade in summer, but with minimum impact to the patio. The tree would be about 20 feet from the...
view the full question and answer

Aging Arizona Ash in Austin
May 04, 2014 - Mr. Smarty Plants! I live in South Austin and just bought a house with a large, 30-40 year old Arizona Ash in the backyard. When I moved in, most of the lower branches were bare and dead and so I had ...
view the full question and answer

Pollenless Cedar Elms for Georgetown, Texas
September 28, 2010 - I am considering planting the Cedar Elm tree at my home in Georgetown, Texas. I was under the impression that only the female of the species produces the irritating pollen. Is this true?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center