Roots, Shoots, Fruits & Flowers: Florida Betony, Leaf Scales, Leaf-footed Bug, & Mediterranean Gecko


Florida betony is a winter weed & a member of the mint family. Photo: Susan Ham, Father's Hope Nursery.

Florida Betony

Susan is a horticultural professional and wanted to identify and control a seasonal winter weed.

Susan has a winter weed named Florida betony (FB). One type of herbicide that will FAIL is a pre-emergent herbicide because this is a perennial weed with tubers. The FB in the image above is young and has only a small tuber. Older FBs have tubers resembling the buttons of a tail of a rattlesnake, so this weed is sometimes referred to as rattlesnake weed. Another feature of this weed is the square stem.

Not only will pre-emergent herbicides fail, but a weed barrier fabric will likely fail as well. One post-emergent herbicide that homeowners can use is atrazine in various formulations by different pesticide brands. As always, read the label for safe and effective use of a pesticide.


A magnolia leaf with both scale insects and egg cases from a leaf-footed bug. Photo: Michael Clanton, Down South Design, Inc.

Leaf Scales & Leaf-footed Bug

Mike, another landscape professional, sent in several images of leaves from a “Little Gem” southern magnolia.

First, this image is very clear and includes a pen to give a sense of scale to the pests on this leaf. A couple of pests are shown in this image. The white spots near the midvein of the leaf are scale insects. Scales live in one place and feed on plant sap for their entire lives. The juveniles, called “crawlers”, move until they find a suitable place to be established.

Dan Gill, retired AgCenter horticulturist, made this recommendation for controlling scale insects, “The safest effective way to control scale is with a horticultural oil spray. These insecticides contain oil in a form that will mix with water. When mixed and sprayed onto an infested plant, the oil coats the scale insects and clogs their breathing pores. The insects are suffocated rather than being killed by a toxic material. Brand names of spray oils include Volck™ (use only during cool weather), All Seasons™ and Year-Round™.”

The evidence of a second insect pest is the brown, rectangular eggs cases next to the midvein in Mike’s picture. These egg cases were laid by a leaf-footed bug (LFB), a pest that stings tomatoes and other vegetables. The holes in the egg cases show that the LFB juveniles have since hatched out and have dispersed. However, if you recognized these egg cases, then feel free to destroy them to prevent another hatching of LFBs.


Mediterranean Gecko, a harmless lizard. Photo: Nathan Smith

Mediterranean Gecko

A homeowner sent a picture of an animal that he thought was poisonous and wanted to confirm his concern. The animal in question looks like the one in this image to the left.

This critter is a Mediterranean gecko, a harmless, exotic lizard established in the Gulf coast of the United States. It does feed on insects and could be beneficial. During cold weather, it will come indoors where it can be a nuisance. The best way to manage this small lizard is to catch it and release outside where it will eventually find insects on which to prey.

If you want to contact Roots, Shoots, Fruits and Flowers, please send your questions and pictures to Keith Hawkins, Area Horticulture Agent (AHA), 337-463-7006 or Also, you can be on the “green thumbs” email list by emailing your request to the address above.

“Before you buy or use an insecticide product, first read the label, and strictly follow label recommendations. Mention of trade names or commercial products in this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute endorsement by Louisiana State University AgCenter.”

“This work has been supported, in part, by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Renewable Resources Extension Act Award, Accession Number 1011417.”

2/18/2021 3:59:27 PM
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