Roots, Shoots, Fruits & Flowers: Carpenter Ants, “Indian Bread,” Slime Mold, and Spider Mites


A couple of carpenter ants in a jar. Photo: Ashleigh Midkiff, LSU AgCenter.

Carpenter Ants

Ashleigh at the AgCenter in Leesville sent this email, “Ms. Sharon came in and wanted to know how to get rid of these ants that are killing her trees. She has tried an exterminator and they will not do anything with them.

An online search of AgCenter website provided some answers for Sharon:

  • Any water-damaged wood should be removed.
  • Wood treated with borates will repel infestation.
  • Treat with Advance Carpenter Ant Bait™.
  • Nests in trees or old stumps can be treated with Orthene™, Talstar™ or other pyrethroids.
  • These ants do not bite or sting.


A "tuckahoe" fungus. Photo: John Martel.

“Indian Bread”

John found an unusual fungus in the forest and sent this email, “I found this [growth]” after a logging operation done in Grant Parish. I have seen these in the past when machinery has dug them up. They exist about a foot underground, and some have been over six” across. They occur in forested areas, mostly upland forests. They are usually oblong with no distinctive roots. The outside is like a woody bark with the inside being white and the texture of the inside is like that of a mushroom. It has no distinct smell. The local old-timers call it “Indian bread.“ Could it be in the truffle family and is it edible?”

Mr. David Lewis, a trained mycologist, identified this sample and wrote, “This is a [specimen] known as a ‘tuckahoe.’ The fungus associated with it is Wolfiporia cocos. It is reported to be edible.” The tuckahoe fungi are a different from truffles.


Slime mold on a tree. Photo: Rebecca Elliott.

Slime Mold

Rebecca asked for information about a growth in her landscape, “Do you know what this is? [It is] on trees and in flower beds.”

Rebecca has a type of slime mold in her yards. A 2020 article about slime molds from the LSU AgCenter shared this passage, “LSU AgCenter plant doctor Raj Singh said slime molds appear as crusty or powdery coating on any surface, including wooden planks used for making raised beds, garden mulch, lawns or even the leaves and stems of all different kind of garden plants. ‘The encrusted cover is usually a powder buildup that wipes off easily,’ he said.” Slime molds are harmless and require no chemical treatment.


A hibiscus leaf with spider mite damage. Photo:

Spider Mites

Beverly sent this message, “[I hope] you might help me with some information on how to fight spider mites on my hibiscus.”

Dr. Heather Kirk-Ballard, a horticulture specialist with the AgCenter, recommends these treatments for spider mites and for lacebugs, “Insecticidal soap, horticultural oil, neem oil and most chemical insecticides provide good control. Directly spray the underside of the leaves for best coverage. Systemic insecticides with active ingredients such as acephate or Imidacloprid provide the best control and are used as drenches for the roots that are then translocated throughout the plant. Before using any pesticide be sure you read and follow the label instructions.”

If you want to contact Roots, Shoots, Fruits, and Flowers, please send your questions and pictures to Keith Hawkins, Area Horticulture Agent (AHA), 337.284.5188 or

“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.”

4/6/2022 8:16:58 PM
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