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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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Sunday - April 18, 2010

From: Burleson, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pests, Cacti and Succulents
Title: Yucca with halticotoma valida bugs in Burleson TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have had Yucca plants in my yard for 10 years, but this year is the first time I have seen halticotoma valda, and there are thousands of them. How do I get rid of them? are they harmful to the plant. Thank you

ANSWER:

Most websites on yuccas would have you believe they are subject to no serious pests or diseases, but there are some. The yucca is a pretty tough plant, used to surviving in difficult environments, but these bugs are not attractive and you certainly don't want them to continue to multiply. Of the suggestions in the website referenced below, we would certainly go for the insecticidal soap first, which would have the least impact on the environment. A good hard freeze supposedly will deter them, as well, but we've probably had the hardest freezes in Texas that we will have for a long time, so if they are still with you, we would take a shot at getting rid of the little beasties. 

From a previous answer by Mr. Smarty Plants:

Here is a Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station website on the Plant Health Problems of Yucca . The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center neither recommends for nor against pesticides, but these sites have suggestions for the specific bugs in question. Always read directions carefully and follow them to the letter when applying pesticides. 

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