En EspaŅol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - Caterpillars on young bluebonnet plants in Comal Co., TX

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
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

Something eating Monarda didyma in Washington DC
June 30, 2011 - Please Help, I have a couple of Bee Balm, Jacob Cline, plants, whose leave are being eaten, by what I do not know. None of the nurseries around here seem to have ever heard of this happening to this p...
view the full question and answer

Wildflower garden for Driftwood, TX
August 20, 2013 - I would like to plant wildflowers in a fairly large field on a slope. The slope is a little rocky and is located in Driftwood, TX. I have been thinking about a mixture of Bluebonnets and Indian Blank...
view the full question and answer

Best place for picking wildflowers in Austin
February 14, 2014 - Where is the best place to find wildflowers for picking near or in Austin around the end of March?
view the full question and answer

Texas wildflowers for April wedding
March 13, 2007 - A friend of mine is getting married in Texas in April and wanted to decorate the event with flowers native to that state. In my experience wildflowers do not last long out of the ground or in cut for...
view the full question and answer

Dicentra Late in Emerging in the Spring
April 29, 2013 - I have had a bleeding heart plant that has come up for over 50 years. This year it did not come up. Is there anything I can do? Is there a chance that it will come up next year or should I assume that...
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