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


Box elder
Acer negundo

More Trees Questions

Deer Resistant Evergreens for Pennsylvania Woods
March 12, 2015 - We are looking for evergreens that will grow in a partially shaded/wooded area and are ideally deer resistant. Hemlocks are out because of a parasite infestation in our area of Pennsylvania.
view the full question and answer

Thoughts on non-native Italian Cypress in Austin
January 01, 2014 - I would like to know your thoughts on growing Italian Cypress trees in Austin Texas? We are looking to create a privacy screen(and prepared to pay more for mature trees to cut down the wait to grow...
view the full question and answer

Identity of evergreen tree at Barton Springs in Austin TX
October 11, 2015 - I am trying to identify an evergreen tree at Barton Springs in Austin. It is growing on the south lawn overlooking the pool. It has needles arranged in a fan like shape and makes a kind of crown-shape...
view the full question and answer

Encouraging branch growth of live oak trees in Austin
February 10, 2009 - I recently had an elm tree cut down that was crowding out 2 live oak trees in my front yard. The oaks have no branches on the sides that were next to the elm. The elm stump is still there. I need to ...
view the full question and answer

Need a shade tree for an enclosed courtyard in Las Cruces, NM
September 24, 2012 - I HAVE A WEST FACING COURTYARD ENCLOSED WITH A 6' STUCCO WALL AND I WANT TO ADD A SHADE TREE. CURRENTLY HAVE SEVERAL MESQUITE TREES, DESERT WILLOW, CHINESE PISTACHE & VITEX TREES IN THE FRONT AREA ...
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 | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center