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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.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Thursday - June 16, 2011

From: San Marcos, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Deer Resistant
Title: Not deer eating the Eve's necklace in San Marcos TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Dear Mr SP, Re: the Eve's necklace being eaten. I'm so sorry that I didn't tell you in my original question which you were kind enough to answer with the speed of lightening, but I am on the East side of I35, in a new development and, believe it or not, we have NO deer. They just haven't discovered us yet. The tree is very small, less than 2 feet. I think it is a bug of some kind but can't see anything.

ANSWER:

The reason we were so fast is that we answer very similar questions frequently, and just referenced one of them. We knew it was too easy. The only thing we can think of that would make off with most or all of the leaves on a plant is the leaf-cutter ant. Please read this previous answer, which was from San Antonio; Hays County is close enough to Bexar County that they could have spread there.

Ordinarily, when insects are the cause, they are things like spider mites or aphids that pierce the leaf and suck juices out of them. They make unsightly holes, and can eventually do a lot of damage to the plant, but they don't eat the whole leaf. In fact, they live on the leaves they are sucking on, and raise their children. If you see any ants, they are farming the bugs, collecting the "honeydew" exuded by the bugs. The cutter ant, however, although also a farmer, takes as big a chunk of leaf as he can carry home to the tunnels where the queen is laying eggs. They usually work at night, which might explain why you have seen no bugs. The answer we have linked you to has more information.

Since we are neither entomologists nor plant pathologists, that about empties our stock of wisdom about your problem. As we did in the linked answer, we suggest you contact the AgriLIFE Extension Office for Hays County, and see if they have had other reports of similar problems.

 

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