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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 02, 2014

From: San Antonio, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pests, Shrubs
Title: Tiny red bugs on Mountain Laurel from San Antonio TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Hordes of solid bright red tiny bugs are all over the bark of my Mountain Laurels. The infestation has me very worried. How can I deal with them? Thank you in advance for helping solve this problem.

ANSWER:

We are up against a wall on this one. Here is a  previous answer on pests of Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain laurel). Here is another previous answer about red-backed bugs. In neither case does it actually sound like what you are describing, and none of our sources seem to feel there is any insect pest that bothers the Texas Mountain Laurel except the genista caterpillar.

We have another idea. The genista catepilla is a pest of Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain laurel). Also a pest of this plant and many others, is the aphid. And what is the main devourer of the aphid? Hippodamia convergens, convergent lady beetle (from the University of California Integrated Pest Management website). Go back and look at those bugs and look at the pictures and information on that article about them.

If that still doesn't sound or look right, we suggest you contact the Agriculture and Natural Resources Section of the Texas A&M AgriLIFE Extension Office for Bexar County. Trust us, if those are ladybugs on your plant, they will harm neither you nor the Mountain Laurel, but they will make lunch out of any aphids in the vicinity. While we are not entomologists, the Texas Extension service has entomologists on their staff and can help you more than we can.

 

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