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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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Thursday - July 25, 2013

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pests, Transplants, Trees
Title: Caterpillars on Mountain Laurel from Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

My 1-yr old mountain laurel has been decimated by small yellow and black catepillars. It recovered a bit and pushed out some fresh new growth, and more came and decimated that too. Are these caterpillars good guys or bad guys? Should I be picking them off or leaving them be to make lovely butterflies? Will it kill the tree?

ANSWER:

Here is a previous Mr. Smarty Plants answer that addresses not only the caterpillars but also the fact that your Mountain Laurel may be suffering from transplant shock. Be sure and follow the additional links in that question.

 

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Texas mountain laurel
Sophora secundiflora

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