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

Wednesday - September 07, 2011

From: Economy, IN
Region: Midwest
Topic: Pests, Trees
Title: Striped caterpillars on Cornus sericea (redtwig dogwood)
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

My red-twig dogwood has white/black striped caterpillars that congregate on the underside of the leaves and they are stripping the leaves. What can I do? They almost look like Monarch butterfly larvae. Would they feed on anything other than milkweed? Help!

ANSWER:

Cornus sericea ssp. sericea (Redosier dogwood or redtwig dogwood) is listsed as a larval host for Celastrina ladon (Spring azure).  It seems its caterpillar has at least two forms—both green and pinkish—depending on what it is feeding.

The sawfly larvae (Macremphytus tarsatus) is reportedly a significant pest on dogwood (Cornus) species.  It, too, has several forms.

Here is a list of moth caterpillars that feed on Dogwood Shrubs and here are links to photos of some these caterpillars:

White-lined Bomolocha, Euthyatira pudens,  Hyalophora cecropia, Hydrelia albifera, Hypagyrtis unipunctata, Probole amicaria, Schizura unicornis and Xanthotype sospeta.

Monarch butterflies do, generally, feed on milkweed plants, but they will also feed on other members of the Family Asclepiadaceae (Milkweed Family) such as  Matelea species, Cynanchum species and Funastrum species.  I doubt that they would feed on Cornus species in the Family Cornaceae (Dogwood Family).

Perhaps one of the caterpillars above is the one you are seeing.  Whatever the caterpillars are, if they are destroying your dogwood tree, you probably want to remove them.  It can be very effective to put on some gloves and simply pick them off and put them into a container of soapy water, vegetable oil or water with insecticidal soap.  You can also consider using a natural insecticide, Bt, that comes as a powder that can be sprinkled on the leaves or can be mixed with water and sprayed.  As with all insecticides, please read and carefully follow instructions for application and safety.

 

From the Image Gallery


Redosier dogwood
Cornus sericea ssp. sericea

Redosier dogwood
Cornus sericea ssp. sericea

More Pests Questions

Danger of lichens damaging trees
September 26, 2007 - My mom lives east of Buda, Texas where she has planted many different kinds of trees, which are all over 10 years old. Now, they all have a moss or lichen growing on the bark of the trees. She is worr...
view the full question and answer

Caterpillars ate my Sophora in La Mesa, CA.
July 06, 2011 - Before I noticed what was happening, my newly-planted 1 foot tall Sophora secundiflora was eaten by caterpillars. It now has no foliage. Do you think it will leaf out again?
view the full question and answer

Problems with non-native Banana Shrub from Houston
May 01, 2014 - My 7' beloved Banana Shrub (magnolia) has white dots on top of the leaves and nasty black stuff covering the backside of the leaves. The plant is dropping leaves. What can I do to save it? I has bee...
view the full question and answer

Infestation of flies around euonymus in summer
March 02, 2008 - I have 3 shrubs planted in my backyard. I think they are a type of euonymus (but I'm not sure). My question is why do they attract huge nasty flies. The first year we had them they didn't. But the l...
view the full question and answer

Waxy deposits on Magnolia fuscata from Ethel LA
June 18, 2013 - I have a 4yr old Magnolia Fascata (aka banana shrub)- I noticed that it has small oval shaped yellow waxy deposits on the branches.. I have also noticed small black ants on the branches. The unknown d...
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