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

Friday - September 11, 2009

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Caterpillars on Mountain laurel in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

One of our 18+ year old Texas Mountain Laurels seems to be in distress this year. We treated it for caterpillars this Spring but many of the new leaves had been eaten by then. I recently started watering it when it seemed "droopy" during the 100+ temps we were having here in Austin over the summer. It has not been fertilized in several years, if at all. Do you have any suggestions for helping it recover? Thank you.

ANSWER:

This is the second question in a few days about the caterpillars in Central Texas on the Mountain Laurel. We are going to take the liberty of simply quoting that answer. One extra note on your question, about fertilizing: this is a native plant in its native habitat and should not need fertilizer. It is already adapted to the soils and the climate in this area. Further, your plant is under stress, and no plant that is stressed should be fertilized. Hopefully, the little bit of rain we have had in Austin in the last few days is a forerunner of more to come. We can't say for sure that the severe heat and drought has contributed to the caterpillar infestation of the Mountain Laurels in our area, but it sure hasn't helped. Now, from our previous answer:

"Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain-laurel) is ordinarily considered pretty pest and disease free. However, it can certainly be attacked by caterpillars, and prompt action helps the tree survive. Read this Landscape Integrated Pest Management article from Texas A&M AgriLIFE Extension Genista caterpillar on Texas Mountain Laurel. It explains the steps that need to be taken. You must try, since it is kind of late in the season, to get as many of the caterpillars off as you can. The treatment suggested in this article is really only effective early in the "chewing season" when the moth larvae are actively eating the leaves. The tree needs to be given the chance to revive and grow a few more leaves before it goes dormant, because the whole tree, and its roots, are dependent on the leaves to manufacture food for the plant through photosynthesis. In an active growing season, no leaves, no food, and the tree could easily die. And if the tree survives and comes back next Spring, start watching early for the eggs of the moth mother on the leaves. Getting them off before the caterpillars ever hatch is the best prevention, and the most chemical-free."


Sophora secundiflora

Sophora secundiflora

 

 

 


 

 

 

More Trees Questions

Over-trimming of native linden tree
November 06, 2008 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, My huge beautiful linden tree was just way over trimmed. It is planted near the house, so they cut most of the branches on that side all the way back to the trunk. I now have...
view the full question and answer

Seven foot privacy fence in Tucson
November 25, 2014 - I am looking for a privacy hedge for a home in Tucson, Arizona that will be in full sun. Needs to be at least seven foot tall and low water and maintenance. Any suggestions.
view the full question and answer

Native Christmas tree from Smithville TX
December 16, 2012 - I've always wanted to use a native tree as a Christmas tree. Do you have any suggestions?
view the full question and answer

What is the growth rate of the table mountain pine in zone 6 & 7?
July 14, 2009 - How fast growing is the table mountain pine in Zones 6 and 7 in the Appalachians? What is the growth rate?
view the full question and answer

Stressed live oaks from Lakeway TX
August 19, 2013 - I have some Live Oaks who appear to be stressed (Ball Moss is becoming very prevalent on some of them) during the drought in Central TX. How often and how long should I water them? Thank you very much...
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