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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Monday - April 30, 2012

From: Bandera, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pests, Shrubs
Title: Mountain laurels with insect problems in Bandera, TX..
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

I have 3 mountain laurels about 8 yrs old. Suddenly about 3 yrs ago worms started decimating them. This yr I got dipel dust which works great but only for two weeks. I now have small red flies and tents on the plants. I don't want to dig them out and burn them; what next. I could see them arrive [worms ] from the next property by strings. No one lives next door and it has been derelect for yrs. Help!~!!

ANSWER:

Mountain Laurel Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain laurel) is a beautiful hill country native , and should be right at home in Bandera County. It is frequently touted as not having serious disease and pest problems. Well you probably feel that isn’t true.

The worms that you mention are probably the larval form of the Genista moth, and are sometimes called Sophora worms. This web site describes their life cycle and gives tips for getting rid of them. This guide from the Desert Botanical Garden ( Phoenix, AZ ) also has helpful information.

For the other conditions that you describe, it would be more helpful to have someone who can actually look at your trees and make an assessment. You should be able to find such a person at the Bandera County Office of Texas AgriLife Extension.

 

 

From the Image Gallery


Texas mountain laurel
Sophora secundiflora

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