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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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Monday - June 10, 2013

From: League City, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pests, Wildflowers
Title: What insect eats Alamo Fire blue bonnets from League City TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

What insect eats Alamo Fire blue bonnets? Something seems to be eating new seedpods.

ANSWER:

From Aggie Horticulture, here is an article on Alama Fire bluebonnets. This is apparently a selection of Lupinus texensis (Texas bluebonnet). The color showed up in the wild and growers have continued to breed for the color. If the flowers accidentally cross breed with the original blue flowers, the red ones may revert to the blue.

As to what is eating the seedpods, we can only check and see what eats the bluebonnet seeds pods this time of year. In a previous Mr. Smarty Plants question we found this statement:

"A few insects also eat the plant. For instance, the bluebonnet is larval food host for Northern Cloudywing, Gray Hairstreak, Henry's Elfin, Painted and American Lady, and Orange Sulphur butterflies. (Caterpillar Food Plants for Central Texas by Mike Quinn, Texas Parks and Wildlife)."

We tried finding some pictures in our Image Gallery that pertained to this question (below). The first two are pretty pale pink precursors to the red bluebonnet. The last definitely shows something eating the seeds. You can enlarge the picture by clicking on it, and it sure looks like caterpillars to us.

So, here's the thing. The bluebonnet (even when it's red) is a tough Texas native survivor. There are always going to be things that are going to chew on plants, but we all like the butterflies, too, don't we? We wouldn't recommend spraying, as you might kill some beneficial pollinators in the process. Leave them alone and it will be interesting to see what color flowers you get next March from the seeds that are dropped.

 

From the Image Gallery


Texas bluebonnet
Lupinus texensis

Texas bluebonnet
Lupinus texensis

Texas bluebonnet
Lupinus texensis

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