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?


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

Tuesday - May 25, 2010

From: cedar park, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: What is eating the leaves of my oak tree in Cedar Park, TX?
Answered by: Jimmy Mills


This one has a couple of arborists stumped. I have clusters of small, light-colored worms on the leaves of an oak tree, but no tents or webs. They are eating the chlorophyll in the leaves, leaving the leaf intact, but white with a gauze-like appearance. I have not been able to find any information online. Can you help? Thank You.


Nice pun.

The worms you are seeing are most likely the larval stage of a group moths known as leafminers. The female lays eggs on the lower surface of the leaf, and when they hatch , the larvae bore inside the leaf and make mines by clearing out the leaf tissue inside the leaf. The second instar is larger and works on the surface of the leaf eating the epidermal cells. This is what makes the leaf transparent. Since the attack is on an oak tree, there are three species that are possible culprits; the Solitary Oak Leafminer (Cameraria hamadryadella), the Gregarious Oak Leafminer (Cameraria cincinnatiella), and the Oak Skeletonizer (Bacculatrix ainsiella).   

Because we are Botanists and our ability to identify insects is limited, I suggest that you contact an Entomologist at the Texas Forest Service for a positive ID of your insect.



More Trees Questions

Removal of burned tree stump from Weir TX
September 24, 2012 - Hello, I am the community manager for Country Glen, LLC In Weir, Texas 5 miles north east of Georgetown Texas. Simple question I need to remove a large Arizona Ash that was burned buy fire I need th...
view the full question and answer

Is the palm tree a true tree?
December 18, 2008 - Hello, There has been constant debate here about the Palm Tree. I'm in Las Vegas and I have heard everything from it not being a true tree but a cacti or a giant thistle?! I've tried to research...
view the full question and answer

Is black olive (Bucida buchera) toxic to people or dogs?
June 02, 2009 - We have what we think is a black olive tree growing in our front yard, which I keep trimmed to about 4 feet high. A bird dropped the seedling in my garden, so I'm not quite sure it's a black olive,...
view the full question and answer

Native trees that will thrive in Amarillo, TX
April 04, 2010 - I need help in finding native Texas trees that will do well in Amarillo's low water and extreme temps.
view the full question and answer

Trees for privacy screen in California
May 31, 2013 - Hi Mr. Smartypants, We are first-time home-buyers of a cute little house and a relatively large lot in Pacific Grove, CA. Unfortunately the neighbors to the north have built a second story with a nic...
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.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center