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 Shrubs Questions

Pruning and deadheading rosa rugosa while blooming
August 01, 2008 - Can you prune the dead flowers and branches of rosa rogosa while it is still blooming?
view the full question and answer

Suggestions for Texas native plants for memorial
June 30, 2005 - A dear friend of ours has passed and we would like some ideas of a native Texas plant we could plant in memory of her. It will be grown in the hill region near Houston. Thank you.
view the full question and answer

Erosion controlling plants for a shady Minnesota lakeside
August 11, 2015 - I live about 50 yards from a lake and there is a steep embankment. Recently someone decided to cut the trees off the embankment and now the dirt is eroding off the embankment as well as off my back ya...
view the full question and answer

Small shrubs for flower bed in Denton, Texas
September 16, 2009 - I have a small flowerbed that faces south on the front of my house. What small shrubs would be best in that situation?
view the full question and answer

Oak leaf hydrangeas from Edwardsville IL
August 13, 2012 - Hello, I live in West Central Illinois (across the river from St. Louis) and I am considering planting several Oak leaf Hydrangea's in my yard. The location where I would like to plant them is und...
view the full question and answer

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