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

Friday - November 08, 2013

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pests, Shrubs
Title: Something damages leaves on Tecoma stans from Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Help! Something is chomping my Esperanzas. I thought it was deer but they don't seem to be eating other yellow bells in my neighborhood. I think it's an insect. Something is completely stripping the branches, leaves and blooms. Some of the branches seem to be turning black on the tips. I just sprayed with some mild soapy water hoping that would help. Thanks!

ANSWER:

According to this article from Butterflies and Moths of North America, Tecoma stans (Yellow bells) is a larval host for Paratreae plebeja, Plebeian Sphinx Moth. From that article:

"Life History: Caterpillars hide on the underside of stems during the day, and emerge to feed at night. Fully-grown caterpillars pupate in chambers in soft soil. Caterpillars of the second brood pupate and overwinter in their chambers.
Flight: One brood in the north from May-July, at least two broods in the south from March-November."

It would appear that if you have them this year, you will have them next year, so if it proves to be the case that caterpillars are causing the damage, please see this article from Home Guides on How to Get Rid of Caterpillars without Pesticides on Plants.
In an article from Arizona State University,we found this information about pests on Yellow Bells:

"Disease and pests: In the Phoenix area, Texas and phytophthora root rot fungi occasionally cause sudden plant death, usually only in heavy soils with a former agricultural use history. During late summer of good monsoon years, a leaf skeletonizer catepillar will ravage foliage on upper stems primarily. The damage to foliage is short lived and cosmetic, not lethal. Several chemical control strategies are available including a biological spray Bacillus thurengensis; however, given the growth habit of Tecoma and its rapid recovery after pruning, I recommend that one strongly head back (prune) infested plants and dispose of the damaged material.."
Since this plant is deciduous, we tend to agree that knocking down the caterpillars and trimming back damaged foliage will be sufficient, but you should carefully clean up and dispose of the cuttings and be aware you may be subject to a second attack next Spring.
 

From the Image Gallery


Yellow bells
Tecoma stans

Yellow bells
Tecoma stans

Yellow bells
Tecoma stans

More Pests Questions

Hydrangea with Pest and Sun Issues
July 26, 2015 - My hydrangea is in trouble. Something is eating holes in the leaves which then turn brown on the edges (the holes and the tips of the leaves are also burned). It looks like someone burned them with ...
view the full question and answer

Caterpillars devouring Blue Wild Indigo in Jesup GA
September 05, 2011 - I have a false blue indigo growing in my garden. Every spring it gets defoliated by Genista moth caterpillars. It usually doesn't put out new growth until the next spring. This summer, it has put ...
view the full question and answer

Weedy buffalo grass from Dripping Springs, TX
March 07, 2013 - I have a buffalo grass lawn. It is thin and filled with weeds. I would like to find a solution to improve my lawn. I prefer a native grass but I need to be able to control the weeds and I am not ph...
view the full question and answer

Black coloration on Star Magnolia is probably sooty mold.
November 21, 2008 - I have a star magnolia where 90% of the bark has turned black. It almost looks burned. The tree has decent buds set for next spring. What is causing the bark to turn black?
view the full question and answer

Controlling Cochineal Insects on Cholla Cactus
July 07, 2011 - We have cochineal insects on a cholla cactus. Will they kill the plant? What should we do to get rid of them if water spraying them won't work?
view the full question and answer

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