En Español

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

Saturday - July 23, 2011

From: Belchertown, MA
Region: Northeast
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Pests
Title: Trumpet creeper with ants in Belchertown MA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

My Campsis Vine is having one of the maximum blossom years it gets after a good pruning. This year, I have black carpenter ants on the blossoms and the flowers are rotting from the edges down on some of the clusters I can't figure out exactly what the ants are doing to cause this. I want to stop the ants from accessing the vine. I have been unable to find any commentary on this topic. I have pets I always try to use natural remedies. You are my last resort. Any advice?

ANSWER:

According to this article from Floridata, "Ants inhabit the blossoms - or perhaps they're shopping for nectar. At any rate if you cut trumpet vines for indoor arrangements go over them carefully to flush out any creature that may be lurking within the trumpet's depths."

Campsis radicans (Trumpet creeper) may be infested by aphids. They pierce the leaves, and subsist on the nutrients they suck out. They are very small and white, usually found on the underside of the leaves, and lay lots of eggs. If this is going on you will find a white substance that is exuded by the aphids; this may get moldy and turn black-it is referred to as "honeydew." Where do the ants come in? They are farmers, and their herds are aphids. The ants feed on the honeydew, and take it back to their nest to feed the young, as well. They will fiercely protect the aphids from predators, but they don't chew on the plant.

Another reference we saw referred to sooty mold that often gets on the flowers, which doesn't particularly hurt anything, but is unattractive. It often indicates poor air circulation and/or not enough sunlight.

Let's talk about carpenter ants. This article from University of Nebraska has pictures and an explanation on Carpenter Ant Management. In this case, your concern would not be on the damage the ants might be doing to the trumpet creeper, but what the trumpet creeper is climbing and can the ants be damaging that? In other words, if your plant is climbing up a wooden fence or house, those ants may just be using the vine for transportation into other parts of the structure, and they are very destructive.

One last word, we would suggest you read this Dave's Garden Forum on Campsis radicans, especially the negative comments. You might decide you really don't want that trumpet creeper all that much.

 

From the Image Gallery


Trumpet creeper
Campsis radicans

Trumpet creeper
Campsis radicans

Trumpet creeper
Campsis radicans

More Pests Questions

Fungus gnats on indoor plants
July 09, 2007 - Hello, I live in Austin and I work in an office where we like to have plants. Recently we started to get these annoying tiny, little nits, how can we get rid of them without harming my plants. Help th...
view the full question and answer

Yucca with halticotoma valida bugs in Burleson TX
April 18, 2010 - I have had Yucca plants in my yard for 10 years, but this year is the first time I have seen halticotoma valda, and there are thousands of them. How do I get rid of them? are they harmful to the plan...
view the full question and answer

Shade Tolerant Groundcover for Texas
July 13, 2016 - I live in Atascosa county in Pleasanton Texas, I have an abundance of Live Oak and Ash trees shading my property and need a groundcover for my backyard which is nothing but sand and where I have dogs ...
view the full question and answer

Black bugs on yucca from Aledo TX
April 14, 2013 - We have flowering yuccas that have thousands of small black bugs that seem to be hurting the plant. They are not on any other foliage in our beds. What do I use to get rid of them??
view the full question and answer

Using cattail fluff to stuff pillows
April 22, 2007 - Me and my children filled a pillow case with cattail feathers today and brought it home. My mother says that it is going to get or attract bugs. Are there any dangers in this little project? Than...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center