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 Trees Questions

Freeze damage to my Norfolk Island Pine in Houston, TX
March 18, 2010 - Houston, Texas experienced a rare 3-day snow event this winter that allowed snow to stay on my 20 ft. Norfolk Pine, in the ground for over 10 yrs. Every branch is now brown with all dead foliage. I ha...
view the full question and answer

Desert willows not doing well in Navarro County, TX
May 16, 2009 - Planted 3 new desert willows , 3-4 ft.in February. Live in East Navarro County and soil is clay with slight slope to Richland Chambers lake area. Had a wet spring. These plantings appear not doing we...
view the full question and answer

Non-native, invasive mimosa trees in Vincennes IN
April 29, 2014 - I have 3 Mimosa trees here in Vincennes, Indiana and so far none of them are leafing out this spring (4-28-14) Do you think that this past winter could have killed then?
view the full question and answer

Thoughts on non-native Italian Cypress in Austin
January 01, 2014 - I would like to know your thoughts on growing Italian Cypress trees in Austin Texas? We are looking to create a privacy screen(and prepared to pay more for mature trees to cut down the wait to grow...
view the full question and answer

Need suggestions for plants for a privacy screen in Long Beach, NY.
August 10, 2011 - I have recently added 1500sq.ft. to my backyard. My backyard faces a busy road. I would like to place native trees and bushes along the fence for added privacy, shade and to protect my house from the...
view the full question and answer

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