Explore Plants

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
    
 

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

Friday - August 08, 2008

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pests, Trees
Title: Possible webbing bark lice on oak tree
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

We live near the Center and have a large live oak tree in our yard. Recently the lower trunk has been covered with thin, white weblike material (not sure if spider web). What could this be and is it dangerous to the tree? Should I brush off with broom or try another solution? Thanks!

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants thinks that your oak tree may be infested with webbing bark lice (Archipsocus nomas). Do not be alarmed. It looks rather nasty, but isn't harmful to the tree. The bark lice, which aren't really lice, are feeding on fungi, lichens and other debris on the trunk of the tree. In other words, they are cleaning your tree and, thus, are probably beneficial to it. They produce the web to protect themselves from wind, rain and predators. Here is more information Auburn University, Texas A&M and North Carolina State University. Another related species of bark iice, Cerastipsocus venosus, also commonly occurs in Texas. Here are photos of Cerastipsocus venosus. So, let them be and thank them for the cleaning service!

 

More Trees Questions

Native alternative for Japanese Red Maple in Oklahoma
October 12, 2009 - Mr. Smarty Plants, I am looking for a native alternative to a Japanese Red Maple. I would like a small tree that I can put in my front garden that will not pose a security risk my being overgrown and ...
view the full question and answer

Premature leaf drop on Red Maple in Kentucky
June 25, 2008 - I have a ten foot Red Maple tree that has been set out for 4 years. Its leaves have slowly turned colors until it currently looks like fall. The leaves are not falling off nor is there yet any s...
view the full question and answer

Clear pungent, liquid oozing from oak tree
June 28, 2010 - I have a large oak that over the last few days has been oozing a pungent, non sticky, clear substance from one specific site (no damage) about the size of a dime. It's attracting quite a few gnats, m...
view the full question and answer

Bur oak defoliation
September 05, 2008 - I have a bur oak that was planted in 1993. In 2000, I had mortared stone edging (approx 5 inches deep) installed around the trunk from 4 to 6 feet away. In the last 3 years, the tree seems to be decli...
view the full question and answer

Watering a Montezuma Cypress in Spring Branch, TX
July 11, 2013 - Live near San Antonio, and have a Montesuma Cypress, 15 ft tall. Great soil. Planted in April, should I keep it moist??? The foliage is getting brown.
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.