En Español

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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 Trees Questions

Bald cypress causing problems in Spring TX
June 22, 2010 - There is a 50+ ft Bald Cypress growing near my property line. While the tree has grown substantial knees along the driveway and some as far as 35 ft from the tree in my flower beds, I do not see any d...
view the full question and answer

Rocky Stream Bank Plants for Dallas, TX
July 02, 2015 - Need live stake shrubbery or tree ideas for a rocky stream bank prone to high water. Thank you
view the full question and answer

Young oak tree with dead branches
April 10, 2009 - I purchased my home new a year ago and we have three young oak trees that came with the house. Two of the trees are doing great and their new leaves have grown in. One tree however still has dead le...
view the full question and answer

Can trees survive if trunks are buried under 3-5 ft of soil?
January 27, 2012 - We have two cedar elms and a mesquite that I protected from backfill as our Texas Hill Country lot was leveled in preparation for building a house. The bulkheads are now holding back 3' to 5' of ma...
view the full question and answer

Nut tree for Florida
October 09, 2008 - Hi! I would like to plant a nut tree in Orlando, FL. What would you recommend?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center