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

Skin allergies; is Juniper the culprit in Simi Valley, CA?
July 21, 2012 - My husband and I have had terrible skin allergy problems this spring (for me it's been 3 years) and think it may be the juniper bushes outside our bedroom and kitchen windows. Is there a fast growin...
view the full question and answer

Propagating a Magnolia tree from a twig cutting in New Hampshire.
November 02, 2011 - I have a twig cutting from a rare magnolia tree I found on a farm in central New Hampshire. The tree seems to be at least one hundred years old. It was in full bloom in late August and I was told by t...
view the full question and answer

Wilting American Smoke Tree in Texas
April 21, 2013 - I planted a young American smoke tree last fall (mid-November) and it put out a good show of tentative new leaves this spring. Then to keep the tree form I clipped some little shrubby start ups at the...
view the full question and answer

Growth rate of Thuja occidentalis
January 31, 2011 - What is the growth rate of thuja occidentalis? I have found web sites and books claiming slow to fast.
view the full question and answer

Shrub to scrren house from dust from gravel road
July 28, 2013 - HI: We live in the foothills of Dobbins, California (2 hours North of Sacramento, Ca). I live on a gravel dirt road with traffic that goes about 45 miles an hour. When they drive by our house it lo...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center