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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.

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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.

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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!

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Wednesday - August 19, 2009

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders
Title: Webs on tree trunk, probably bark lice
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

webs on tree trunk and creeping up. See no spiders or worms. what could be. very fine, thick web

ANSWER:

This sounds like webs from barklice that are eating fungus and lichens on the bark of your tree.  They aren't lice at all, but are insects in a group called Psocids.  Although there are members of this group that are considered pests (e.g., booklice) the bark lice don't harm the tree—in fact, they are beneficial since they are cleaning up the bark.  We had a question a while back about webbing on a iive oak in Austin.  Here is the link to the answer where you can learn more about bark lice.
 

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