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

Tuesday - May 03, 2011

From: Cedar Creek, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pests, Trees
Title: Possible sawflies on loblolly pine (Pinus taeda)
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

My pine trees looked great a week ago, now one from top to bottom is almost without needles. It is covered with greenish caterpillars. They have several stripes down their back . Could these be saw flies? These are large loblolly pines, about 50 ft tall. We have watered the trees and spread compost yearly and trees looked well. What can I do and is it too late? We never use chemical controls and always try natural and organic methods. Thanks so much.

ANSWER:

Your description does sound like one of the pine sawflies such as Neodiprion taedae linearis (loblolly pine sawfly) or Neodiprion lecontei (redheaded red pine sawfly).  Indeed, the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension issued a Sawfly Alert on April 27, 2011. Here is an article, Pine Sawflies, from the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension and here is information from the U. S. Forest Service and from Ohio State University Extension about the life cycle, damage to trees and control measures for N. lecontei. The good news is that the U. S. Forest Service says that southern pines—this includes Pinus taeda (Loblolly pine)—can survive complete defoliation.  The April 2009 article, Pine sawfly in northeast Texas, from Texas A&M AgriLife Extension says that pines that are defoliated usually recover.  Both the U. S. Forest Service and Ohio State University Extension offer suggestions for biological and mechanical control measures as well as chemical treatments.  You may be able to use mechanical means to remove the larvae; but since your infestation sounds very heavy, you might want to consider using chemical means to control them.  The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension articles above suggest effective pesticides and "Insect and Mite Control on Woody Ornamentals and Herbaceous Perennials" from Ohio State University Extension has general information on chemical as well as other treatments.

 

More Trees Questions

Need a Replacement for Chinese Tallow tree in Austin, TX
November 26, 2014 - I live in Austin and have a large Chinese Tallow in my front yard. I would like to cut the tree down, but it provides shade to my home. I was hoping to start growing a native fruit/nut tree near the C...
view the full question and answer

What to do with ailing live oak trees
May 04, 2010 - We live in far north San Antonio, TX on a 2 acre lot with many trees.. about 25% oak and 75% cedar. About 15% of our live oak trees have not sprouted leaves yet this spring, or have only sprouted leav...
view the full question and answer

Food Allergy to Beautyberry or Persimmon?
October 22, 2015 - I think I might have a food allergy to Beautyberry or American Persimmon, eaten Saturday at the North Carolina Great Dismal park. These were the only strange foods recently, though I've had persimmo...
view the full question and answer

Removing Texas cedar Juniperus ashei from Blanco River banks
February 26, 2014 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, Should cedar trees be removed from our Blanco River banks to prevent them from sucking too much of our precious water before it makes it into the river system? If so, what s...
view the full question and answer

Fast growing, flowering shade tree for Austin
April 28, 2012 - Sister just moved to Austin Texas. She is looking for fast growing shade trees, preferably one with nice flowers. Any suggestions?
view the full question and answer

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