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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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Tuesday - November 02, 2010

From: utopia, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Why are branches falling from my pecan trees?
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

I have tree branches falling that appear to have been cut, not broken,off the tree. Seen most on the pecan trees but had a young red bud die with what appears a clean cut of the trunk approx. 2 feet off the ground. Is this a disease or insect? Can I do something to prevent it?

ANSWER:

From your description, it sounds like your trees have some unwanted guests; twig girdlers. These are a type  of wood boring longhorn beetles that girdle twigs and branches and cause them to fall from the tree. Common hosts of the twig girdler include persimmon, pecan, elm, hickory, oak, honeylocust, hackberry, poplar, linden, redbud, basswood, dogwood and various fruit trees.

This Bulletin from the Texas Agricultural Extension Service describes the biology of the girdlers.

This field guide on Twig Girdlers from Texas AgriLife Extension should also be useful.

This link from Forestry Images illustrates the kind of damage the beetles cause.

Have you examined the ends of the fallen branches? There should be some tell-tale signs if the beetles are the cause.

My suggestion is that you get in touch with the Uvalde County Office of Texas AgriLife Extension, and show them the branches. They should be able to help you with this problem by identifying the culprit and suggesting treatment.

 

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