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
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

Problems with Juniperus ashei in San Antonio
May 27, 2011 - I live in San Antonio and have many juniper trees. On inspection I do not see insects or any other form of damage, but my trees are turning brown and dying. I have already had to cut one down. When...
view the full question and answer

Problems with non-native weeping willow from Hazlet NJ
July 03, 2013 - Leaves turning yellow on weeping willow planted in May. What causes this and how can I fix it? Mother's Day gift after SANDY uprooted huge tree.
view the full question and answer

Possible freeze damage in Wax Myrtle from last winter in Bastrop, TX
July 25, 2011 - Our Wax Myrtle is about 7 yrs old and in good shape until this past winter when we had several very hard freezes. Now several of the large branches are dead and more are dying each month. We have not ...
view the full question and answer

Strange growth on oak tree
August 26, 2008 - i have a very strange round segmented growth on a tree in my yard. i think the tree is a chinkapin oak and the growth is a reddish color. it looks like a ball with suction cups on it. it is very st...
view the full question and answer

Controlling mildew on Gaillarida sp.
August 11, 2005 - Any suggestions for controlling mildew on blanket flower? It's spreading throughout my garden.
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
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center