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
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


Ash-leaf maple
Acer negundo

More Pests Questions

Cat deterents
May 01, 2007 - I was wondering if there is such a plant that will deter cats from going in your gardens. I have a problem with them using my garden as a litter box, and had heard that there was a plant that the...
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

Bare spot in Prairie Phlox in Austin
February 25, 2009 - I have Prairie Phlox in my garden that I have had for about 4 to 6 years. I got the original plant from the NPSOT at their booth one year at the Wildflower center. It is really lovely in the spring wh...
view the full question and answer

Mosquito repellant plant?
January 18, 2009 - Is there such a thing as mosquito repellent plants? If so, what are they?
view the full question and answer

Sticky material dripping from tree in Austin
July 22, 2012 - The tree in my backyard is dripping what I surmise is sap - a thick,fdrake1@ sticky substance in July. What kind of tree is it and is there anything one can do prevent this from happening? Thank you...
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