Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - December 16, 2010

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pests, Trees
Title: Larvae infesting Mexican white oak
Answered by: Nan Hampton and Eric Beckers

QUESTION:

What larvae/worm would dwell and eat the inside of a Mexican White Oak? I planted one last November and it was doing great. The bark started cracking towards the bottom but the top was very full & green with plenty of new growth. One day I found it had snapped in two at the bottom of the trunk and there were many white larvae worms inside!! I always thought of them as pretty pest resistant. Thoughts? What could it be and how do I treat it? Also, I planted another one in the front yard on the same date. How do I know if it's infested?

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants consulted Eric Beckers with the Texas Forest Service about the problem with your Quercus polymorpha (Mexican white oak).  We don't know for sure what insects the "many white larvae worms" were; but we do believe that whatever they were (borers, ants, etc.) that they were acting on a previously damaged tree. Newly planted nursery stock are often afflicted with mechanical injuries or sun scald and these minor problems can turn bad when a borer or other insect sets up shop.  Rough handling, bruises, tight wraps/ties, etc., are locations where borers seek entry.  Newly planted trees are all too often damaged by weed whips and mowers and insects take over the nice cavities left behind.  Anyway, the problem is probably restricted to the one tree, unless the other was similarly damaged.  You should carefully inspect the other tree and if you do see damage, you might want to contact a professional arborist.

 

More Pests Questions

Something eating cannas in Austin
July 14, 2012 - What is eating my cannas?
view the full question and answer

Invasive native blackeyed susans from Warren OH
August 07, 2013 - In our demo garden we master gardeners in NE Ohio have been unable to get rid of black-eyed susans which have, like the other person, prevented or "killed" the other perennial plants. They are spre...
view the full question and answer

Why are there gnats in my houseplants?
July 22, 2009 - I have flying brown gnats in my house plants. Can you tell me why?
view the full question and answer

White sticky stuff on muscadine grape vines from Chappells SC
August 17, 2013 - Muscadine vine has white sticky substance on leaves and vines, what is it?
view the full question and answer

Galls on live oak tree in Austin
December 12, 2013 - I live in Austin, and have a 13 year old live oak in my yard. It has developed little spheres, kind of like green peas, on the underside of the leaves. What is it? Is it harmful? Is there somethin...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.