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

Grasshopper invasion in Box Elder SD
August 22, 2011 - I just bought a new home and there is an infestation of grasshoppers throughout the neighborhood. What shrubs and/or flowers could I plant that they may not like to eat?
view the full question and answer

Poor drainage in wildflower bed
November 10, 2004 - I have a flower bed that has given me difficulty because it has poor drainage but typically receives sun for most of the day. Salvia gregii was the only survivors for the initial landscaping attempt. ...
view the full question and answer

Problems with Monterrey Oak in Austin
March 26, 2013 - We had a local tree service plant two Monterrey Oak trees on 4/2/2012. At the time we noticed that woodpeckers had had a field day on the trunk bark of both trees with the most damage being on the lar...
view the full question and answer

Caterpillars eating passion vines from Austin
May 17, 2012 - My question concerns Yellow passion flower, purple passion vine & butterflies. I have had my passion vines for 3-4 years, each spring they start growing beautifully, then in 1-2 days are almost compl...
view the full question and answer

Controlling sandburs from Austin
February 24, 2013 - Hello, What is the best way to prevent sticker burrs from growing in a rocky bed with no grass. There are many other plants we want to preserve and a drip line to keep them watered. We have 2 small k...
view the full question and answer

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