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
3 ratings

Friday - March 27, 2009

From: New Braunfels, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders
Title: Moth using Agarita as its larval food in New Braunfels, TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

What moth uses agarita as its larval food? It is a perennial problem that can nearly defoliate the specimen and severely limit its flower production.

ANSWER:

We hope that your  Mahonia trifoliolata (agarita) doesn't look like these pictures in this website by Bob Harms at the University of Texas, Barberry webworm. The adult form of these larval beasties is a grayish brown moth with about a 2" wing spread that belongs to the family Pyralidae ("snout moth"). This moth and its larva are often connected to members of the Berberidaceae or Barberry family, to which the Mahonias, including agarita, belong. The name of the caterpillar involved is Omphalocera dentosa, so at least when you are swearing at them, you can call them by name. According to this Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station site Barberry (Berberis), control is rarely needed. In the event of an infestation, they recommend the application of Bacillus thuringiensis var. kurstaki, or spinosad, which are among the compounds registered for control of this pest, to young caterpillars. Consult the label for dosage rates and safety precautions.

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center recommends neither for nor against the use of pesticides, and you will have to be the one that decides if you need to apply controls. We would suggest you contact the Comal County Extension office and see what suggestions they have, as they are likely  to know more about the situation.


Mahonia trifoliolata

 

 

 

More Diseases and Disorders Questions

Hibiscus plants being attacked by powdery mildew, or maybe mealy bugs in Austin, TX.
August 10, 2011 - I have three hibiscus plants planted outside about a foot apart from each other. The one that gets most of the sunlight is the worse off of the three. However, all three of them have white powdery stu...
view the full question and answer

Green worms on salvias
October 12, 2008 - 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...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants on arborvitaes
March 28, 2005 - Hello, I live in Allentown, PA and have a 7-foot arborvitae shrub in my backyard, planted in the corner of the yard where a wood fence intersects with the brick wall of the garage. I have had ma...
view the full question and answer

Freeze damage to non-native Philodendron selloeum in Deltona FL
June 22, 2010 - My philodendrons selloeum died this past winter in the freeze,came back slowly this spring and now are suffering with very small deformed leaves. Some do grow but are getting large brown dry areas on ...
view the full question and answer

Yaupon in bonsai failing to thrive in Lufkin TX
July 16, 2009 - Hi,I have a yaupon that I've turned into a bonsai. It's been producing new vegetation until about a month ago. Then all of a sudden the branches started drooping and the leaf tips started turning bl...
view the full question and answer

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