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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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Saturday - July 14, 2012

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pests, Trees
Title: Aphids in pecan tree from Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Last year at this time (midsummer) everything under the canopy of our 60+ year old pecan tree was covered with a sticky substance--plants, lawn furniture, concrete pool deck..Since we had never seen this before we assumed it had something to do with the severe drought--and the lack of rain to wash things off. However, it is happening again this year. We've asked our tree guy and nursery staff, but no one knows what it is. It does not 'hose off.' Would appreciate advice--even where we might go for help.

ANSWER:

Easy one. We are surprised none of the sources you consulted knew what it was. Here is a recent Mr. Smarty Plants question discussing the reason for the sticky stuff. Another website we would direct you to is the Integrated Pest Management site from the University of California on Aphids. What you need to hose off is the tree; it will wash a lot of the aphids off and they can't get back up so readily. Avoid herbicides because it will likely kill beneficial insects that feed off the aphids.

 

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