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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.

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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 - August 06, 2008

From: Port Monmouth, NJ
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Pests, Cacti and Succulents
Title: Bugs on yucca plant in New Jersey
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I noticed small bugs ALL OVER 4 established yucca plants all near each other. They may look like Halticotoma valida but I'm not positive. There is no brown on the leaves except for the large amounts of bugs scurrying about but the leaves are no longer fully green or straight up. The leaves seem very muted in color and they seem to be wilting more and more. HELP!! How do I get rid of them before they kill my plants?

ANSWER:

We're still trying to get our minds around there being yucca in New Jersey. There are 28 plants that either are yuccas or have "yucca" in their names in our Native Plant Database. As we went through trying to find a likely candidate, we found that most of them listed their native habitat as Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. Finally, we found one, Yucca filamentosa (Adam's needle) that is known to grow in New Jersey. There is also Hesperaloe parviflora (redflower false yucca) but it didn't appear to be growing anywhere outside the desert Southwest, either. Do you know which yucca you have?

The Floral Genome Project Yucca filamentosa has some general information on this plant. Nearly every website we visited on yucca assured us that there were no significant pests or diseases of the yucca if its cultural requirements were met. However, we did at last find a site that admitted they might have infestations of Halticotoma valida. See if the images on the referenced site match the bugs you are talking about. We also found several references to mealybugs as being a nuisance to yuccas. This eHow site gives you complete instructions on How to Control Mealybugs. Here is a page of Images of mealybugs. And, finally, here is a Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station website on the Plant Health Problems of Yucca . The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center neither recommends for nor against pesticides, but these sites have suggestions for the specific bugs in question. Always read directions carefully and follow them to the letter when applying pesticides.

 

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