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 - 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 Trees Questions

Bugs eating new growth on Mountain Laurel shrubs from Dripping Springs TX
April 02, 2013 - What is eating the new growth on my mountain laurel shrubs? One plant has red bugs and the other has black (could they be love bugs?). Is there something I can do to preserve the new growth?
view the full question and answer

Searching for a red mulberry tree (Morus rubra) to buy
March 17, 2008 - Want to purchase a native Texas Red Mulberry tree (morus rubra). Can't find one. Can you help? Thanks,
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants on women trying to conceive
July 10, 2005 - RE: Eucalyptus. Is this bad for women trying to conceive? The smell is very powerful.
view the full question and answer

Growing a Swamp Oak from Seed
July 02, 2014 - I have a swamp oak that I started from an acorn. Someone at a nursery stated that after 4 years I should cut it off at ground level and then allow one of the suckers to grow while keep removing the ot...
view the full question and answer

Horse ate bark of cedar elm from Liberty Hill, TX
February 20, 2013 - I have three acres with a rental. Planted a Cedar Elm near the porch. My ex-renters allowed their horse to graze around the house. It ate the bark off of the tree. How can I save this tree?
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