Contact Us Host an Event Volunteer Join

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 Pests Questions

Ravaged by snails
May 23, 2007 - Our Prickly Pear Cactus is being completely ravaged by snails. Is there something in my yard that could be attracting them? Is there something I can do to keep them off the plant? Also is is safe to...
view the full question and answer

Invasive native blackeyed susans from Warren OH
August 07, 2013 - In our demo garden we master gardeners in NE Ohio have been unable to get rid of black-eyed susans which have, like the other person, prevented or "killed" the other perennial plants. They are spre...
view the full question and answer

Problems with rusty blackhaw viburnum in Austin
May 07, 2010 - I have a four foot rusty blackhaw viburnum. Last summer the leaves turned reddish and in the late summer most of them fell off. This February the plant started to leaf out and then bloomed. It has ...
view the full question and answer

Sap drips from Sophora secundiflora
May 30, 2008 - We have an old Mountain Laurel (sophora secundiflora) about 20 ft tall. It blooms pretty well and seems healthy. We are wondering why it drizzles a non-sticky sap in tiny drops. Hold out your hand and...
view the full question and answer

Unknown pest of Texas Mountain Laurel from Round Rock TX
May 24, 2012 - I have a Texas Mountain Laurel that is being denuded from the top down by something unseen. It's not the Genista moth larvae, as there are no worms and no webbing visible. The only clue that it might...
view the full question and answer

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