Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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 Pests Questions

Ants in the compost pile from Georgetown TX
March 09, 2012 - Can you give me any suggestions for ridding my compost pile of ants?
view the full question and answer

Problems with beheaded non-native Gerbera daisies in Cooperstown, NY
May 31, 2009 - I planted my gerberas in my perennial bed - as usual. Something is beheading them and leaving the blooms along side the plant. Some of the bloom is eaten but most of it is right there. I have t...
view the full question and answer

Caterpillars devouring Blue Wild Indigo in Jesup GA
September 05, 2011 - I have a false blue indigo growing in my garden. Every spring it gets defoliated by Genista moth caterpillars. It usually doesn't put out new growth until the next spring. This summer, it has put ...
view the full question and answer

Plants to repel mosquitoes from Leander TX
May 19, 2013 - What are the best plant for repelling mosquitoes in the Leander area? The land here is hilly and rocky.
view the full question and answer

Crape myrtle in Austin
August 01, 2012 - Please don't bother to answer my question about how to treat a crepe myrtle with sticky stuff falling from it. I just found the answer on your site. Good site, by the way.
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.