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 - July 07, 2011

From: Arlington, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pests, Cacti and Succulents
Title: Controlling Cochineal Insects on Cholla Cactus
Answered by: Brigid & Larry Larson

QUESTION:

We have cochineal insects on a cholla cactus. Will they kill the plant? What should we do to get rid of them if water spraying them won't work?

ANSWER:

Yes, Feeding cochineals can damage the cacti, sometimes killing their host.  

You seem to be on the right track, The Cactus Doctor discusses Cochineal eradication.  Their recommendations were:
1)       A power nozzle attached at the end of your hose.
2)      If the infestation begins to get out of control, treating the areas by scrubbing them with insecticidal soap or unscented dish soap was suggested. Neem Oil was also mentioned for a natural approach.

A similar set of solutions were also recommended by the University of Arizona Extension in a publication on Cactus Diseases and in a previous Mr Smarty Plants question 

Several webpages mentioned the use of insecticides, and Wikipedia mentioned several natural preditors:   “Several natural enemies can reduce the population of the insect on its cacti hosts. Of all the predators, insects seem to be the most important group. Insects and their larvae such as pyralid moths (order Lepidoptera), which destroy the cactus, and predators such as lady bugs (Coleoptera), various Diptera (such as Syrphidae and Chamaemyiidae), lacewings (Neuroptera), and ants (Hymenoptera) have been identified, as well as numerous parasitic wasps.”

 

More Pests Questions

Control of grasshoppers from Goldthwaite TX
July 07, 2012 - How long do grasshoppers live. They are eating our flowers, plants and trees.
view the full question and answer

Ants in outdoor plants in Austin
July 30, 2011 - Live in Austin. The problem is THIS. Ants have invaded our outside potted plants- mandevilla, begonia , lemon tree and violas. The colonies are devouring the roots it appears. Please give suggestions ...
view the full question and answer

Something damages leaves on Tecoma stans from Austin
November 08, 2013 - Help! Something is chomping my Esperanzas. I thought it was deer but they don't seem to be eating other yellow bells in my neighborhood. I think it's an insect. Something is completely stripping the...
view the full question and answer

Control of ball moss in oak trees
March 23, 2007 - I live in San Marcos, Texas and I have a two acre lot with lots of oak trees. Most of these trees have so much ballmoss attached to them that the leaves and branches are not visible anymore. Is ther...
view the full question and answer

Groundcover for vineyard from Round Rock, TX
February 04, 2013 - I will be planting a vineyard in the Hill Country next spring. I am looking to maintain low-growing understory plants across the entire vineyard to maintain soil health, choosing plants that the leaf...
view the full question and answer

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