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

Sunday - October 12, 2008

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders
Title: Green worms on salvias
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I recently bought a "salvia blue chiquita." Some leaves were yellowing, but full of flowers and still attractive. Have had it on my deck for less than a week and have found 2 tiny greenish "worms" (caterpillars?) wound around stems. Can't find more than these two, but more and more holes appearing and now my Salvia Mexicana also has some holes in a few leaves. Is it the worms? How do I get rid of them? Thanks!

ANSWER:

Even if we were entomologists (not!) the description you gave probably wouldn't help us identify your creepy crawly. If you can find teeny tiny legs, they're caterpillars, and therefore the larvae of some flying insect, maybe a butterfly, maybe a moth. No legs, they're worms. Either way, they no doubt hitch hiked into your garden from the nursery where you purchased your plants. And it sounds like they've moved into another plant. We're pretty sure they are the source of the holes in your plant. Before you do anything drastic, try this: Either get a small size of Safer insecticide, dilute it, and spray onto your plants. Or, make a weak solution of dishwashing detergent and water and try that. Although the Safer will certainly kill some insects, one of its values is that lots of insects can't hold onto a soapy twig and slither off. If that doesn't work, see this article from the St. Petersburg (Florida) Times The Best Caterpillar Control. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center recommends neither for nor against pesticides, but do recommend minimum impact on the environment. If you still don't feel you have the problem under control, contact the Travis County Extension Office; they may already have experience with your pest and know immediately what to do about it. 

 

More Diseases and Disorders Questions

Problems with a Sherman (Shumard?) Oak from Bixby OK
May 14, 2012 - We have done extensive research on oak fungi/diseases/pests could be affecting our Sherman Oak tree but we are stumped. The leaves are falling off and have some sort of moldy bunch within the leaf it...
view the full question and answer

Failure to flourish of Trumpet Creeper in Leesburg VA
June 28, 2011 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants: Late last year I planted a trumpet creeper vine to grow on my fence and attract hummingbirds. It gets full sun, is in average soil and gets adequate water. I put a few daylilli...
view the full question and answer

Fuzzy Citrus Fruit on Satsuma and Lemon Trees
September 13, 2014 - A man asked you about fuzzy little small fruit-like balls that looked like tiny lemons. I have huge numbers of these on both my mature Satsuma and lemon tree this year. I get 100's of really great f...
view the full question and answer

Yellowing of Leyland Cypress in Roswell, GA
April 27, 2010 - We paid for 12 foot naylor blue leyland's to be planted behind our home. This is their first season in the ground here - they came from a tree farm - there is yellowing on some of the branches and w...
view the full question and answer

Effect of heavy rains on Lindheimer Muhly
May 04, 2015 - It is April 2015, in San Antonio we've had very heavy rains recently. My Lindheimer muhly, which was looking beautiful, has now turned brown all over. Is this normal or is this a problem?
view the full question and answer

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