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?

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
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

Tuesday - November 26, 2013

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Is a wasp colony in hollow in my oak tree harming it?
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

I have wasps colonizing a hollow portion of a live oak here in my backyard in Austin ten feet from my backdoor. They are yellow and black banded, maybe an inch long. Two questions: 1. Are they hurting the tree? This live oak is very large, perhaps 700 years old, and the hollow is in a structurally critical part of the trunk. 2. If I have to kill them, what can I use that won't hurt the tree?? Help, please.

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants consulted a colleague who is an entomologist, and his guess is that you have yellow jackets (Vespula squamosa ). They are probably not harming the tree, but are using an existing cavity to build their nest.  The colony was established by a single queen, and could contain as many as 4,000 workers.  This link  on wasp control urges caution when trying to eliminate a colony because of the high numbers of wasps involved. Colder months is a better time for eradication because the wasps are less active. The insecticides used for eradication probably won’t harm the tree.

This link from TAMU  explains more about the yellow jackets,  and bugguide.net  has some interesting images.

Mr. Smarty Plants would probably leave the colony alone if the wasps were not being too aggressive.

 

More Trees Questions

What about planting a Colorado Blue Spruce in Rapid City, SD?
May 13, 2009 - What would be the best tree to plant in my small front yard that would be low maintenance? I live in Rapid City, SD, and we are landscaping our front yard. We were thinking of Colorado Blue Spruce b...
view the full question and answer

Flaming sumacs in trouble in Wimberley TX
August 31, 2010 - I planted three flaming sumacs last fall and all leafed out this spring. Then, early this month all the leaves turned brown on one and it appears to have died. Today I noticed that a second one is d...
view the full question and answer

Native trees for revegetation project
October 05, 2007 - We live in a MUD just outside of Round Rock Texas. There is a developer building apartments behind about 20 houses. Last year, we got the developer to agree to leave 20' of native vegetation in the e...
view the full question and answer

Problems with red oak in New Braunfels TX
May 11, 2009 - One of my red oaks still doesn't have all its flowers. The main bark has some dark stuff oozing out and one of the branches has a fine powdery substance on it. HELP!!!!
view the full question and answer

Why isn't my recently planted Mexican Redbud growing in Georgetown, TX?
April 11, 2010 - I planted a container-grown Mexican Redbud in early March. As of April 5th, it is showing no signs of buds or leaves. Other redbuds in the area (possibly Texas redbuds) have been blooming for severa...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center