En Español

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
12 ratings

Tuesday - December 29, 2009

From: Natural bridge Caverns, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Wildflowers
Title: Caterpillars on young bluebonnet plants in Comal Co., TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Due to much needed recent rains our bluebonnets are coming on beautifully. Today however when looking at what I thought was frost damage noticed caterpillars that start eating from the center and work their way out. There is a picture of one on a bluebonnet on your website but not identified. They resemble a bag worm with more orange. If harmful to plant what is the best organic way to deal with them?

ANSWER:

We found the picture to which you were referring in our database (see below). However, it looks as though it is on a mature plant, with browning seed pods, so it may not be the same caterpillar. This page of pictures of the Genista brown moth caterpillar (Uresiphita reversalis) is from the TAMU Horticultural Gardens at Texas A&M University. From the same source, here is a page of Texas caterpillars, with 38 illustrations.

Further research indicated that this caterpillar targets legumes, including the bluebonnet. Another target of this caterpillar is the Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain-laurel), again, a legume.  Sometimes, it is referred to as the "Sophora worm" and we found a website under that name from the Maricopa (Arizona) County Cooperative Extension services. Our first choice in organic control of this caterpillar would be hand-picking and squishing it; excuse the technical term.  The article we referred to includes treatment by BT (Bacillus thuringiensis), with instructions for its application. These instructions infer that Spring is the time when this caterpillar should be treated, so you will need to make your own decision on whether this critter is threatening your bluebonnets now.

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Lupinus texensis

 

 

More Wildflowers Questions

Bluebonnets and Texas
March 20, 2004 - Can I plant Bluebonnets outside of Texas?
view the full question and answer

Viability of seeds that have not come up
December 06, 2005 - I planted some wildflower seeds per instructions and they are not coming up. Should they? or will they come up in spring?
view the full question and answer

Wildflower seeds planted in May for summer in Fairfield, TX
May 12, 2005 - Are there any wildflower seeds which can be planted in May for the summer? I have planted a wildgrass seed mixture I purchased from Turner Seed Company and planted it today (5-2-05). It was supposed...
view the full question and answer

Few bluebonnets on MoPac in Austin
March 30, 2013 - The grass fields along Mopac from Lake Lady Bird to Southwest Parkway usually have a grand display of bluebonnets. This year I do not see any color at all. Can you help me understand what is happening...
view the full question and answer

Native Backyard for Lakewood OH
December 24, 2013 - I would like to do away with the lawn in my backyard in favor of native plants that would require minimal maintenance, including flowering plants that would encourage pollinators.
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center