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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.

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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.

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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!

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Sunday - April 10, 2016

From: San Antonio, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pests, Shrubs
Title: Red bugs have appeared on my Texas mountain laurel
Answered by: Guy Thompson

QUESTION:

What should I do about the red bugs on my mountain laurel?

ANSWER:

 The red bugs are most likely Lopidea major.  These lnsects can disfigure the TX mountain laurel foliage, but they do not cause serious damage.  They are difficult to eliminate with insecticides because they are members of the True bug order, which feed on foliage by piercing the leaves and sucking out the contents.  They thereby avoid insecticides sprayed onto the leaf surfaces.  And the waxy leaf cuticle prevents the plant to efficiently take up systemic-type insecticides.   It is probably best to leave them alone or, for cosmetic purposes, spray them off with a hose.  In any case, they willl disappear in time, leaving the plant unharmed.

 

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