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

Sunday - October 12, 2008

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders
Title: Green worms on salvias
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I recently bought a "salvia blue chiquita." Some leaves were yellowing, but full of flowers and still attractive. Have had it on my deck for less than a week and have found 2 tiny greenish "worms" (caterpillars?) wound around stems. Can't find more than these two, but more and more holes appearing and now my Salvia Mexicana also has some holes in a few leaves. Is it the worms? How do I get rid of them? Thanks!

ANSWER:

Even if we were entomologists (not!) the description you gave probably wouldn't help us identify your creepy crawly. If you can find teeny tiny legs, they're caterpillars, and therefore the larvae of some flying insect, maybe a butterfly, maybe a moth. No legs, they're worms. Either way, they no doubt hitch hiked into your garden from the nursery where you purchased your plants. And it sounds like they've moved into another plant. We're pretty sure they are the source of the holes in your plant. Before you do anything drastic, try this: Either get a small size of Safer insecticide, dilute it, and spray onto your plants. Or, make a weak solution of dishwashing detergent and water and try that. Although the Safer will certainly kill some insects, one of its values is that lots of insects can't hold onto a soapy twig and slither off. If that doesn't work, see this article from the St. Petersburg (Florida) Times The Best Caterpillar Control. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center recommends neither for nor against pesticides, but do recommend minimum impact on the environment. If you still don't feel you have the problem under control, contact the Travis County Extension Office; they may already have experience with your pest and know immediately what to do about it. 

 

More Diseases and Disorders Questions

Sticky sap (honeydew) on car
July 10, 2012 - MY CAR IS CONSTANTLY COVERED WITH STICKY SAP. I LIVE IN AN AREA WITH MANY COCONUT PALMS AND OTHER TREES. COULD THE SAP BLOW AROUND EVEN THOUGH I KEEP CHANGING THE PARKING?
view the full question and answer

Problems with mature cottonwood in Justin TX
September 17, 2012 - I have a very large, 90" circumference, approx 60' tall, cottonwood tree in my front yard that appears to be sick. The trunk splits at about the 4' level into 2 parts. at that split is a 10" wide...
view the full question and answer

Mildew in Phlox paniculata
October 13, 2008 - I planted garden phlox (phlox paniculata) in my front landscaping and it is suffering from mildew. It is wet on that side due to a down spout and it may benefit from being split. Does anyone know of...
view the full question and answer

Shrubs for Central Texas that are Verticillium Resistant
April 16, 2015 - We need a list of at least a few shrubs in the 6'x3'+ size that are Verticillium Wilt resistant. We have taken out the affected Elaeagnus and would like to replace it with a screen of similar densit...
view the full question and answer

Brown spots in St. Augustine grass
July 05, 2008 - Mr. Smarty Plants, My husband and I are in the Air Force and were recently moved to Cibolo Texas. We built a home and hired a landscaper to finish the yard May 07 (with irrigation system). We laid d...
view the full question and answer

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