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 Trees Questions

Removing yaupon hollies from yard in Austin
July 04, 2009 - We recently moved into a home w/ way too many and much too large (20-30') yaupon holly's in the back yard. I had some of them cut down, but they keep coming up from the roots of the old trees. How ...
view the full question and answer

Tahitian gardenias (Gardenia taitensis) salt and wind resistance in Hawaii
February 03, 2006 - Are Tahitian Gardenias salt tolerant? We live on a rocky coastline in Hawaii and we get a lot of salt spray.
view the full question and answer

Should a mustang grape be left near live oak in Austin?
July 17, 2009 - I recently removed a huge mass of jasmine from a clump of live oaks. Inside I found a very large (12' long) exposed root of a mustang grape. I'd like to trim it back to the original clump and reta...
view the full question and answer

Hurricane damage on oak in Houston
April 01, 2013 - We have a very large oak tree that survived our last hurricane with lots of lost limbs. Then there was the drought. We have lost three large limbs on separate occasions on non-windy days. I love this ...
view the full question and answer

Tree for fast shade in Huckabay, TX
July 31, 2013 - What tree should I plant for fast shade?
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
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center