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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.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Wednesday - May 22, 2013

From: Pensacola, FL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Non-Natives, Pests
Title: Identification of insects on crepe myrtle in Florida
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I have large colonies of striped bugs on large crepe myrtle in my backyard. They stay in large groups and have long antennae. There are larger black bugs among the groups that appear to corral and guide the packs along. They do not appear to fly. I have seen all ages of these bugs from teeny tiny babies about a mm in size to the larger ones I've seen that are about 1/4" long. I have a picture to send you if it will help. Thank you for your assistance!

ANSWER:

Our focus and expertise at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center are with plants native to North America.  Insects are certainly associated with plants, but we aren't experts on insects.  I did ask a local entomologist if he had any idea what the insects you might be seeing on your crepe myrtle (native to southeast Asia, India and Australia, but not North America) might be.  He said it sounded like a Hemipteran, but since it is in Florida and his area of expertise is Texas, he couldn't be more specific than that.   He suggested that you contact someone in your Escambia County IFAS Extension Service office.  They may have had experience with these insects on crepe myrtle trees and/or they can probably suggest a local entomologist for you to contact.

 

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