New(ish) enemy of Coreopsis

coreopsis beetle

Phaedon desotonis, a small, bronzy-colored beetle, defoliates a Coreopsis plant in Blanco Co. (Photo by Sheryl Smith-Rodgers).

Some of you may be lovers of the spritely flower called Coreopsis.  If so, bad news. A tiny leaf-feeding beetle with the tongue-twsting name of Phaedon desotonis has been showing up in occasional outbreaks around the state.  I recorded one in Caddo Mills, TX (Hunt Co.) this month two years ago, and blogger Sheryl Smith Rogers reported (and photographed) an infestation last week in her backyard in Blanco Co. (west of Austin).

Mike Quinn provides two more links to information on this native pest for those of you who would like to learn more:

Ed Riley, from the Department of Entomology at Texas A&M theorizes that this may be a case of an insect herbivore suddenly expanding its host preferences to new plants which were not previously on their list of favorite foods.  If true, it may take a little while for this pest’s natural enemies to adapt to find it on its new host.  Many natural enemies learn to find their favored prey by first searching their prey’s favored host plants.  This might be a way that some herbivores stay one step ahead of their enemies.

Let’s hope for the sake of Coreopsis that the predators wise up quickly.  If you are seeing this insect on your Coreopsis, please consider commenting on this article by describing where you have seen this insect occurring (include the city, state, county and date of observation).  Thanks.

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