Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

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
1 rating

Monday - June 29, 2015

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Wildlife Gardens, Pests
Title: Keeping bugs out of a Texas home
Answered by: Guy Thompson

QUESTION:

I'm slowly growing my gardens into natural habitats for birds, bees, butterflies and other little critters but would like to keep them outside of my house. Being in central Texas it is difficult to control cockroaches and their friends without using a pesticide. Is there anything that you can recommend that would be affective in keeping the bugs outside but wouldn't be harmful for the ecosystem in my gardens? Any suggestions, experiences, websites or literature are greatly appreciated!

ANSWER:

There are numerous websites of one type or another that offer tips on keeping bugs out of the house.  I try to use these when I can.  But over the years my feeling about insects has mellowed.  When my wife and I built a house in the hills just west of Austin 47 years ago we had many learning experiences.  Some critters, like scorpions and brown recluse spiders, tried to reenter the space that we had appropriated from their habitat.  My English wife would run screaming from the house upon spying a cockroach.  As we have grown older we have to some extent come to coexist with many of our insect neighbors.  We know where they hang out, and we leave them be as long as they don't harm us.

Because you obviously appreciate nature I propose that you educate yourself and your family about your six-legged visitors.  I have learned a great deal about bugs from the Texas Bug Book.  Some bugs I viewed as enemies I now realize are friends.  And others are on my protected list just because of their fascinating life histories.

I often see my wife lifting some bug onto a piece of paper and carefully releasing it outside.  She no longer runs screaming out of the house when she sees a cockroach.  Now she only runs screaming into the next room, but then she counterattacts.  This is the one bug that is still hard to like. Her advice to you is to wear sturdy shoes --and stonp on it.

 

More Pests Questions

Holes in leaves of wax myrtle from Austin
April 30, 2011 - I just purchased 4 of the 5 gallon Wax Myrtles at the last spring plant sale and after planting them, they are getting eaten by bugs leaving holes in the leaves. I can't find any of the bugs doing th...
view the full question and answer

Tiny beetles eating a native plant in Austin, TX.
April 15, 2014 - Help! Found plant devoured in my wildflower garden! Covered with literally thousand of small black bronze beetles. They are on other plants but the other plants (native poppies, coneflower, coreops...
view the full question and answer

Controlling slugs in a Pacific Northwest strawberry patch
February 04, 2013 - Would love to plant various varieties of strawberries on a bank for erosion control and ground cover. How can we keep the slugs at bay? We are in the the Pacific Northwest
view the full question and answer

red maple bark damage by squirrels
April 15, 2011 - We have two acres of land, largely covered by various oaks and cherry laurels -and, after many hours of cutting down chinese tallow trees..finally some red maples. Our problem is that we also have a s...
view the full question and answer

Flying insects eating leaves of non-native Brugmansia in Aline CA
October 17, 2013 - I have an Angel Trumpet tree. We live in Aline, California 30 miles east of San Diego. Little yellow and black flying bugs eat the leaves. Do you have a remedy for this problem.
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.