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?


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

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


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!~!!


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

More Pests Questions

Vehicle friendly oak trees for Austin
March 30, 2008 - Do Chinquapins, Shumards or Live Oaks produce lots of tree sap? I'm looking for a vehicle friendly Oak tree to be installed in parking areas in Austin, Texas.
view the full question and answer

Help for Collapsing Tradescantia
August 14, 2013 - My tradescantia has completely collapsed at the crown. The stems are yellowish. This happened once before when I had it planted in full sun and I just had to discard it. This time I have one plante...
view the full question and answer

Are non-native hostas causing fly invasion from Eastpointe MI
July 14, 2013 - I live in Michigan with a small backyard. I have 5 large hostas with the purple flower blooms which are located by my patio. I was wondering if they can be causing my large population of unwanted flie...
view the full question and answer

Sap drips from Sophora secundiflora
May 30, 2008 - We have an old Mountain Laurel (sophora secundiflora) about 20 ft tall. It blooms pretty well and seems healthy. We are wondering why it drizzles a non-sticky sap in tiny drops. Hold out your hand and...
view the full question and answer

Leaf Galls on Live Oak
March 20, 2012 - Hi - I have a live oak tree that always seems to have thinner foliage than our other two. Upon closer examination today I found small brown balls all over the mature leaves. The balls look and feel ve...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center