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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.

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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 - April 20, 2011

From: Shiro, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pests, Wildflowers
Title: Need help with a Coreopsis eating beetle in Shiro, TX
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

Mr.Smarty Plants,(Sorry, I kept messing up with my emails) Anyway, here goes: I usually have a beautiful meadow full of lanceleaf coreopsis blooming by now. Not this year. I found to my horror every single plant has been attacked before they could seed and devoured top to bottom by tiny dark iridescent beetles (about a quarter inch long) and thousands of their black nymphs marching like an army across the ground. Not only was every plant in the meadow reduced to sooty encrusted brown stalks, but any remaining single plants are being assaulted around my yard as well. It looks like I will lose them all. Do you have any idea as to the identity of these pests? I have been here many years and this is the first time this has happened. Thanks, Frustrated in Shiro.

ANSWER:

The Lanceleaf Coreopsis Coreopsis lanceolata (Lanceleaf coreopsis)  is a spectacular meadow flower and Mr. Smarty Plants can understand your frustration upon seeing them turned into a salad bar by a bunch of crunching beetles. In searching for insect pests of  Coreopsis, I found mention of three beetle species that like to eat this plant.

Phaedon desotonis

Calligrapha californica

Acalymma vitta

From the description you gave, Phaedon desotonis could be your culprit.

Another possibility is one of a group of species known collectively as Flea Beetles.

For help identifying your beetle and tips for eradicating it, I suggest that you contact the folks at the Grimes County office of Texas AgriLife Extension.

 

From the Image Gallery


Lanceleaf coreopsis
Coreopsis lanceolata

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