En Español

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 - September 05, 2013

From: sunfield, MI
Region: Midwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Trees
Title: Tree Lost Leaves
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

Are leaf cutter ants found in Michigan too? My leaves are being completely stripped off the tree. It went from growing very well when we planted it, to having completely no leaves at all. I know the leaves are not falling off and we do have a fence around it.

ANSWER:

Leafcutter ants are not as far north as Michigan and you would see them at work on your trees if they were present. Wikipedia.com says that leafcutter ants, a non-generic name, are any of 47 species of leaf-chewing ants belonging to the two genera Atta and Acromyrmex. These species of tropical, fungus-growing ants are all endemic to South and Central America, Mexico and parts of the southern United States.  Leafcutter ants "cut and process fresh vegetation (leaves, flowers, and grasses) to serve as the nutritional substrate for their fungal cultivars." There is a map of the present range of leaf cutter ants from Ant Genera of the World.

Other possible reasons for your leaves being stripped from the tree include: strong jets of water (forceful sprinklers), squirrels in the fall taking leaves and branches for their fall nests (they love oaks), hail, a major insect invasion (gypsy moths, grasshoppers, Japanese beetles, deer, etc.), leafcutter bees (perfect circles cut out of the leaf) or an environmental issue (water, drought, heat, frost) that caused the leaves to all fall rapidly – even overnight.

If you think that the leaf drop is compromising the health of your tree, an arborist should be consulted or seek advice from the Michigan State University, Department of Horticulture.

 

 

More Diseases and Disorders Questions

Black rot at center of Agave from Clovis CA
May 12, 2013 - We have some beautiful variegated "Green & Cream" Agave plants in our cactus garden. One in particular has done quite well for several years and is the largest, about 18" tall & across, it has neve...
view the full question and answer

Yellowing of fronds on Sago Palm
March 27, 2007 - Our Sago Palm now has all yellow fronds from the Winter frosts. Should they be cut off? Will the plant grow new fronds from the bottom to replace the ugly looking ones that are there? And why do I se...
view the full question and answer

Beetles in spineless prickly pear in Austin
June 05, 2010 - I have an enormous spineless prickly pear in my front garden. It's about 6 feet tall, and 6 feet wide. It has blossoming yellow flower. However, it also has large colonies of black beetle-ish bugs li...
view the full question and answer

Cause of yellowing buffalo grass (Bouteloua dactyloides)
June 07, 2008 - We are getting large yellow areas in our buffalo grass lawn and think this is probably due to grub worms. Are grub worms the likely culprit and if so, what is the best way to get rid of them? We don...
view the full question and answer

Tulip trees losing bark in OH
July 11, 2011 - We have two tulip trees in our yard that are losing their bark at the base of the trunk. I am careful with the mower keeping away from the tree when I mow. What could the problem be and what can I d...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center