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
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

Wildflowers for October wedding from Rockford AL
April 26, 2013 - Want to plant wildflowers that will bloom in early October in central Alabama for a wedding. Can you give me any suggestions ?
view the full question and answer

Groundcover for a Sunny, Steep Slope in Maryland
April 29, 2013 - I need a groundcover for a sunny dry steep slope in Towson, Maryland. The slope goes from the parking lot down to a deck area.
view the full question and answer

Arizona centaury near Lost Maples from Austin
November 05, 2012 - I found a clump of Arizona centaury growing/blooming beside a road near Lost Maples State Nat. Area in the Texas hill country last week. Centaurium calycosum is the scientific name. I have 2 questio...
view the full question and answer

How to make a lawn into a prairie in Arlington, Texas
September 15, 2010 - I am removing lawn grasses in order to start a native prairie meadow. After grass removal, I'll put down 1/2" of compost. I will broadcast wildflower seeds on the compost. If I mulch after broadcas...
view the full question and answer

Preplant dip for wildflowers from Gilman IA
March 02, 2011 - I am growing wildflowers in a greenhouse for wholesale spring sales. The very tall varieties such as cimicifuga stretch very quickly. Do you know of any chemical treatments as a preplant dip that have...
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