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 - March 15, 2012

From: Driftwood, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pests, Trees
Title: Moths around Sophora secundiflora from Driftwood TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Sophora secundiflora Our Mountain Laurel has a lot of large moths flying around it. Should we be concerned? Will they hurt the tree? thank you

ANSWER:

We thought we were looking for moths as pollinators of Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain laurel), but we found a USDA Forest Service site on the plant, which included this statement:

"Pests: Plants are primarily pest-free, except for infestations by caterpillars of a moth in the family Pyralidae. Caterpillar infestations of mescalbean sophora have been controlled biologically with a strain of bacteria (Bacillus thuringensis), which causes the caterpillars to sicken and die. Insecticide sprays such as Sevin ordiazinon may also be useful."

Then, we found a previous Mr. Smarty Plants question on the Genista moth:

"Bottom Line: We learned that the Genista is a web producing caterpillar that attacks Texas laurel, crape myrtle, honeysuckle, and Laburnum. Larvae defoliate as well as spin webs. We would appeal to you not to employ pesticides, as they can do much more harm than good to the surrounding vegetation, butterflies, soil and water supply. Whatever is eating your plant, if you would rather not have a chewed-on plant, we suggest you pull it out. There is no point in wasting scarce resources on a plant that is not satisfactory to you."

Our take on this is that if you begin to see caterpillars on your Texas mountain laurel, and you feel they are damaging the plant, then you might consider trying the  Bacillus thuringensis treatment as suggested by the USDA Forest Service. Remember that moths are often important pollinators of various plants, so don't spray pesticides on them, but treat only the caterpillars.

 

From the Image Gallery


Texas mountain laurel
Sophora secundiflora

Texas mountain laurel
Sophora secundiflora

Texas mountain laurel
Sophora secundiflora

More Pests Questions

Control of grasshoppers from Goldthwaite TX
July 07, 2012 - How long do grasshoppers live. They are eating our flowers, plants and trees.
view the full question and answer

Failure to thrive of Lantanas
August 06, 2008 - Here at work we have 4 beautiful yellow Santanas(should I say had), the leaves have started to turn brown and no longer blooming. Appears to have a fungus or disease. Please help!
view the full question and answer

Use of saltwater to kill weeds in gravel in Hamilton Co. TX
May 26, 2010 - I want to get rid of weeds and grasses in our gravel driveway and parking areas. Which would be less harmful to the adjacent native plants and trees: saltwater or herbicide?
view the full question and answer

Webs on trees and porch
August 21, 2008 - i have webs all over my semi covered porch in my back yard. i have noticed these small webs are also on the trees in my backyard. what are they and are they dangerous to the trees or my family who sit...
view the full question and answer

Leaves wrinkling on Tecoma stans from San Antonio TX
August 16, 2013 - My two year old esperanza (planted in the ground) froze back last winter, came back from the roots & has been doing well all summer. Recently one branch has leaves that are nice & green but very wrin...
view the full question and answer

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