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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Wednesday - April 08, 2009

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Symmetrical Holes in Live Oak leaves.
Answered by: Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

We have 2 young live oaks - quercus virginianum trees and their brand new leaves show two symmetrical rows of pin-sized holes punctured along the length of them. What could have caused this?

ANSWER:

A technical point: since you're in Austin, Texas, the species of live oak in your landscape is probably Quercus fusiformis (plateau oak).

The symmetrical holes in the leaves are made by insects just as the leaves are emerging and before they unfold.  Billbugs, plantbugs and caterpillars are all known to cause the type of damage you're seeing, though not necessarily on oaks.  If only a few leaves are involved, there's no need to worry.  If a large percentage of the leaves on your trees are damaged, we recommend contacting a certified arborist for positive identification and control of the pest.

 

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