En EspaŅol

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Tuesday - May 06, 2014

From: Bandera, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pests, Trees
Title: Clicking heard under an Oak in near Bandera, TX
Answered by: Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

Hi, I live on a ranch in TX outside of Bandera. We're covered with live oaks, spanish oak and cedar. Last week,as I stood under an oak, I heard a constant fairly loud clicking sound under and around this oak. I walked around much of our property and did not hear the sound under any other oaks. It's sounded like rain droplets hitting the dry oak leaves beneath the tree but there was no rain. I could not spot any little insects, either. To make sure I wasn't crazy, I asked my elderly mother to take a listen and she heard it also. Any ideas? I'm really puizzled..we've never heard this sound in all the time we've lived here. Thanks, Michael

ANSWER:

It's very likely that you're not losing your mind.  The clicking sound you describe sounds just like the typical sign that Oak Leaf Rollers are at work in a tree.  It is the sound of their frass (tiny, little caterpillar meadow muffins) hitting the dry leaves below.  This is the time of year they visit, often completely defoliating their host Live Oak tree just after its new foliage has emerged.  The damage does not seem to cause serious injury to the host plant, though, and it quickly produces a new set of leaves and goes about its treely business.

Here is an excellent online publication on Oak Leaf Rollers published by Texas A&M's AgriLife Extension Service.

Oak Leaf Rollers are usually just a bit earlier, so we cannot say that it's not another creature, but chances are excellent the source of the clicking you heard were some caterpillars munching on the tree's leaves.

 

More Pests Questions

Cenizos browning in Houston
October 01, 2011 - After this horrible drought, I am committed to xeriscaping with native Texas plants. The few hibiscus that survived have been transplanted into pots and are thriving. I bid the tiny boxwoods a fond fa...
view the full question and answer

Possible maple scale on non-native mophead hydrangeas from Newport RI
August 07, 2013 - I have a mophead hydrangea that has small white cottony tufts under the leaves and on the stems. I believe this is maple scale. Is there a home remedy I can use to rid this disease?
view the full question and answer

Red spider mites in native bluebonnets in Austin
April 02, 2008 - What would you do if the WFC bluebonnets developed a bad case of red spider mites? That is what has happened to many of mine here in Austin. I noticed them the other day and I must have been asleep be...
view the full question and answer

Using Dormant Oils in the Winter
January 20, 2015 - What are your thoughts on the use of dormant oils as part of a winter maintenance program? I live in Austin, Texas.
view the full question and answer

Mites in soil of house plants
June 25, 2008 - Hi there! I recently noticed tiny silver mites in the soil of my plants that I only notice after watering. These plants are indoors in on a window ledge (a dwarf palm, aloe plant and Hawaiian Scheffle...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center