Contact Us Host an Event Volunteer Join

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
Not Yet Rated

Friday - August 22, 2008

From: Old Hickory, TN
Region: Southeast
Topic: Diseases and Disorders
Title: Insect pests in Gaillardia aristata in Tennessee
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I have a couple of 'Oranges and Lemons' blanketflower plants in a butterfly and hummingbird native flower garden that is the foundation planting of my house. They bloom prolifically for me all summer and well into the fall, and seem to be quite popular with the butterflies. However, this year and last year they have been severly damaged by what I am pretty sure are leaf miners. The leaves now have significantly more white/pale yellow than green, and the white areas are very papery, thin, and almost see-through. Also, many of the badly damaged leaves burn, and completely shrivel up. By the end of the summer they start to look very raggedy, although the continued blooms are still very nice and drawing butterflies. What, if anything, can I do to prevent this damage without harming the butterflies? I saw a systemic granule that is supposed to protect against leaf miners - but it is harmful to caterpillars. Do any butterflies or moths use the blanketflower as a larval food? Would the systemic make the nectar poisonous as well? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

ANSWER:

Gaillardia aristata (common gaillardia) is not distributed naturally in Tennessee, but is easily spread by cultivation. The "Oranges and Lemons" is no doubt a trade name, possibly for some color selection, of the blanketflower.

From your description, it appears you are correct that a leafminer is causing the damage to the leaves on your plants. More specifically, we believe the culprit is the Blotch Leafminer, named for the appearance of the tunnels made by the larvae in the leaves. Some of the main hosts of the Blotch Leafminer are members of the Asteraceae family, including Gaillardia. Heavy infestations may kill some leaves, but most damage is simply aesthetic.

There is a biological control of these pests, in the form of a number of parasitic wasps that attack leafminers. We urge you to avoid chemical controls, as they would not only take out the parasitic wasps that help control the leafminers, but also be damaging to other beneficial insects, and certainly to the butterflies and bees you are hoping to attract. Good cultural practices in your garden, good drainage and removing damaged leaves and destroying them, will also help to discourage the leafminers.

 

More Diseases and Disorders Questions

Yaupon hollies dying mysteriously
July 16, 2014 - I have a row of yaupon hollies (Ilex vomitoria) that I keep trimmed like a hedge. They were all healthy for many years. Two years ago one of them died and I removed it, leaving a gap in the line of h...
view the full question and answer

Round growths on Mexican buckeye
April 28, 2008 - I have two pink buckeyes next to each other in my yard. The branches on one are completely covered in brown, round growths about the size of a pill bug. The other tree has none. Can you tell me what t...
view the full question and answer

Bark splitting in old tulip tree in Red Creek, NY.
May 18, 2013 - Hello, We have a tulip tree that has some bark splitting I guess I would call it. The tree is older and very tall. On the north side of it starting at the bottom of the trunk to about 8-9 feet up i...
view the full question and answer

Diagnosis of problems with Texas ash
June 07, 2006 - Our 15 year old Texas ash has less leaf production this year. It also has a small amount of algae on the trunk, and some of the branches have small white spots on it. Also, a few of the branches close...
view the full question and answer

Dying Damianita in Blanco, TX.
June 18, 2015 - My Damianita bloomed its heart out and since all the rain here in Blanco the biggest plants turned brown and look dead. I've trimmed back some and do see green stems. Will they come back? How far ...
view the full question and answer

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