Roots, Shoots, Fruits & Flowers: Bird Droppings, Cuban Tree Frogs, Orange Egg Sacs & Strawberry Plants


White gardenia blooms.
Photo: Dan Gill, LSU AgCenter, retired.

Bird Droppings

Shirley asked about her gardenias and birdseed, “Do you know anyone who may be knowledgeable concerning birdseed? I put a bird feeder near some gardenia bushes and the bushes began to die. I am wondering if the birdseed is even healthy for the birds!?”

AHA responded, “Gardenias like acidic soil so I suspect the bird droppings may be changing the pH of your gardenias.” Gardenias like acidic soils found in the low pH range. Bird droppings have a very low pH from 3.0 to 4.5, and gardenias prefer pH’s of 5.0 to 5.5 according to Dr. Allen Owings, retired AgCenter Horticulture Specialist. The pH of the soil for Shirley’s gardenias may be too acidic for ideal growth and causing harm to the plants.


Cuban tree frogs, like this one seen in Louisiana can outcompete native species and become a nuisance to homeowner. Photo: Brad Glorioso, USGS.


A map of Louisiana showing known infestations of Cuban treefrogs. Image:

Cuban Tree Frogs

“Hey there! My name is Kurt... I live in Lake Charles Louisiana, and I believe we have a Cuban tree frog[CTF] at our house. I've never seen one, but we recently bought a sabal palm from Florida, and I suspect it's one. If you could help me with identifying it, I would be very grateful. We think it's either a Cuban or a grey.”

Kurt also followed up with more observations, “So the main reason we wondered was because it looked way different than the Cope’s grey tree frogs we've seen. We were watching it for weeks on our porch at night and got some good looks of it. We have a lot of little green tree frogs on our glass at night too. And to be honest we euthanized [the CTF]. We were as sure as we could be that it was [CTF]. It was a lot faster and dartier than other frogs. I didn't want to kill it, but I did it to hopefully keep the greens and greys around.”

Brad Glorioso, USGS Research Ecologist, described the problems with CTF, ““Homeowners may be familiar with the nuisance species as they have noxious skin secretions, lay their eggs in bird baths and fish ponds, and they can clog plumbing and cause power outages by short-circuiting utility switches where they seek refuge.” CTF’s also displace native treefrogs and disrupt local ecologies.

The map above shows the parishes with CTF infestations and includes these locations from west to east: Lafayette, East Baton Rouge, Jefferson, Orleans, and St. Tammany Parishes. If you suspect you have a CTF, bring a specimen or send a photo to the LSU AgCenter or to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries (LDWF).


Orange spider egg sac.

Orange Egg Sacs

A homeowner is complaining about these orange “growths” in her carports and wanted to know what they are and how to treat them.

Insect professionals at LSU identified this orange mass as a spider sac, but they were not sure what spider might hatch. An internet search for an “orange spider egg sac” offered the pirate spider as a possible candidate for identification. The pirate spider is a predator of other spiders. An LSU entomologist recommended a pyrethroid insecticide to control the spider. The label on the insecticide will list the active ingredient.

There is no treatment for the egg sacs to prevent a spider hatch. Also, the use of white lights at night attracts insects and predatory spiders. The use of yellow lights would attract no insects nor their predators. A red light would also attract no insects but may attract amorous two-legged pests.


Strawberry leaves with discoloration.

Strawberry Plants

A gardener was complaining about a malady affecting her strawberry plant and sent this picture, "Is this a fungal disease? Most plant diseases are fungal."

A plant pathologist at the LSU AgCenter examined the image and she offered these thoughts: “This looks more like a nutritional deficiency than a disease. Magnesium deficiency is one candidate. I expect they used complete liquid fertilizer, but if the issue isn't resolved by general fertilization, they could submit a sample to the [soil test] lab for tissue analysis.” A soil test is another option to diagnosing a nutrient deficiency.

If you want to contact Roots, Shoots, Fruits and Flowers, please send your questions and pictures to Keith Hawkins, Area Horticulture Agent (AHA), 318-264-2448 or Also, please share the name of your parish.

“Before you buy or use an insecticide product, first read the label, and strictly follow label recommendations. Mention of trade names or commercial products in this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute endorsement by Louisiana State University AgCenter.”

“This work has been supported, in part, by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Renewable Resources Extension Act Award, Accession Number 1011417.”

12/3/2021 9:47:20 PM
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