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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 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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Monday - June 09, 2008

From: Temple, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives, Pests, Trees
Title: Secretions of fluid from crepe myrtles
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

On my crepe myrtle tree I have dozens of 1/2-inch-long narrow bugs that seem to secrete tiny drops of fluid. They appear on the branches of the tree. Are these harmful to the tree? Do I need to do anything about this? I live in Temple, TX

ANSWER:

It is most likely the offending insects are aphids, as described in this article from the University of California Integrated Pest Management. They vary somewhat is size and appearance, but they all suck liquids out of the plant and secrete it again, usually causing a fungus called sooty mold to appear. They attack many different plants but they really love crape myrtles. Since this problem comes up about this time every year, see this previous answer with the information you are looking for.

 

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