Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

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

What to do about volunteer trees growing beneath a large live oak tree in Austin, TX
January 08, 2013 - We have a large live oak tree. Several volunteer trees are growing directly underneath it and into its branches. I want to cut them down if they are going to hurt the long term health of the live oak....
view the full question and answer

Beautyberry Dying Back
August 06, 2015 - I've got an American Beautyberry which I planted in the spring. It's now about 2-3 feet tall and has 3 trunks (or limbs). It's in an area which gets about 5 hours of direct sun per day and I've be...
view the full question and answer

Milky Substance on Salvia greggii
June 26, 2015 - The Salvia greggii that I have in the front yard has a milky substance on it ... and the plants are not doing well. Is this some kind of fungi or disease? What can I do to "cure" it? Thank you! Lia...
view the full question and answer

Improving blooming on mock orange
March 03, 2008 - I have a now 6 yr. old mock orange shrub in the garden which has never bloomed, darn it. I have fed, not fed, mulched, not mulched, sheared, not sheared. What gives? Will it ever bloom, or shall I ...
view the full question and answer

Status of Texas Olive tree in Katy, TX
March 30, 2016 - I have a Texas Olive tree and it has very few leaves. Is this normal?
view the full question and answer

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