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
2 ratings

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

Need small, fast growing trees for privacy screen in Buda, TX.
February 01, 2013 - Please recommend some small, but fast growing, flowering trees to plant along a western fence for privacy
view the full question and answer

Fruit on Mexican olive in Austin
June 05, 2008 - Does Mexican Olive set fruit in Austin? Does there need to be a male and female tree or not. How old does the plant have to be to set fruit? Mine is three years old but no olives. I need to know ...
view the full question and answer

Problems with non-native Callery Pear tree from Louisville KY
June 03, 2013 - I have a Cleveland select that has a bark issue. It is on its second season and I just saw this. It looks like the bark is bubbling up kinda and then wants to peel off the main trunk. I have a picture...
view the full question and answer

Small native trees/shrubs for Corpus Christi, TX
July 02, 2012 - Which small native trees or tall shrubs would do well in full sun in Corpus Christi for privacy along a fence line? Blooms are a bonus and evergreen is preferred.Searches on the website aren't produc...
view the full question and answer

Disease or insect damage on a Mexican plum
September 08, 2013 - Help, Our Mexican plum tree is about 13-14 years old. Earlier this year we noticed the trunk is oozing black stuff and whole branches are dying off. We have watched as our beloved tree has lost most ...
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