En EspaŅol

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
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

Apparent disease in peach tree in Austin
June 12, 2008 - I have a peach tree that the leaves are "bleeding" out on. The leaves are continuing to get paler and paler. There are no peaches on the tree this year either. What can I do?
view the full question and answer

Weird growth on oaks in Middleburg FL
February 05, 2011 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants; I have this plant/fungus that grows on my trees here in northeast Florida & nobody has been able to identify it for me. It looks like a clump of pine needles growing on the ba...
view the full question and answer

Cause of yellowing buffalo grass (Bouteloua dactyloides)
June 07, 2008 - We are getting large yellow areas in our buffalo grass lawn and think this is probably due to grub worms. Are grub worms the likely culprit and if so, what is the best way to get rid of them? We don...
view the full question and answer

How are NPIN Deer Resistance Ratings Determined?
May 06, 2014 - If your plant data-base (which is the best thing since sliced bread!) is silent on the degree to which a plant is deer-resistant, does this mean you just don't have enough information to make the cal...
view the full question and answer

Possible sawflies on loblolly pine (Pinus taeda)
May 03, 2011 - My pine trees looked great a week ago, now one from top to bottom is almost without needles. It is covered with greenish caterpillars. They have several stripes down their back . Could these be saw fl...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center