Roots, Shoots, Fruits & Flowers: Live Oak Protection, Lawn Weeds, Fig Leaves, & Buck Moth Caterpillars

Two Live Oak trees.

A pair of live oaks.
Image: LSU AgCenter

Live Oak Protection

A Deacon of a church invited AHA to visit its new church site to look at a stand of live oaks. He and another Deacon wanted to learn how to protect their valuable trees. AHA shared these thoughts about protecting the church’s live oaks, “I think I would summarize all the items we discussed in this sentence: Protect the roots.

I doubt the sandy fill soil will be harmful because sand has large particles and large pore space. Clay soil would smother the roots and prevent water and air from reaching the root hairs. Removing the sandy fill may cause more root damage.

Avoid trenching near trees and avoid soil compaction by vehicles and by heavy foot traffic.

  1. Use mulch where there are trip hazards by roots and where there will be light foot traffic.
  2. Consider elevated sidewalks when foot traffic is heavy.
  3. Consider a large deck for events in the shade of the live oaks.
  4. Install bollards to prevent vehicles from parking on the tree roots.

Keep an eye on the lone water oak because the exposed wounds from broken branches likely induced decay in the main trunk.

Finally, let me encourage you to have your soil tested for nutrients… Your test results will include recommendations for fertilizing shade trees.”

Lawn burweed.

Lawn burweed. Image: Dan Gill, retired horticulture specialist, LSU AgCenter.

Lawn Weeds

Ann called the AgCenter to ask what she can put in her yard to control the weeds. Ann’s question is late in the season, and she may not have the most effective treatment, especially with respect to lawn burweed. Burweed needs to be treated in January and February. The stickers from Burweed may be felt in March and will be felt in April and May. AHA has successfully used Weed B Gone™ made by Ortho™. He has also used Image™ with atrazine with good control of lawn burweed.

Damage to fig leaves.

A fig leaf with insect damage. Image: Joe Glorioso, DeRidder, LA

Fig Leaves

Joe sent pictures of damaged leaves from his fig tree, and he was very concerned for his tree. The identification of the pest causing the leaf damage shown in the image was difficult to know conclusively. However, citizens have been complaining about June bugs emerging. June bugs will feed on tender trees leaves, as well as shrubs and other plants. AHA suspects that Joe had June bugs, and these insects feed at night making detection more difficult. Treatment with Sevin™ can slow down these insects. Because they feed at night, apply Sevin™ in the afternoon for effective control.

Buck moth caterpillar.

A group of buck moth caterpillars. Image: Kathryn Mott

Buck Moth Caterpillars

Kathryn asked for help with caterpillars, “I need help with identifying these please…thanks in advance.” AHA consulted with Wood Johnson, an entomologist with the US Forest Service, and he responded, “I believe that is a congregation of buck moth caterpillars (BMC).” The spines of this caterpillar have venom glands and can inflict painful stings. BMCs prefer feeding on oak leaves and can feed on willow trees, cherry trees and rose bushes.

NC Extension recommends these control measures, “Buck moth caterpillars are not particularly resistant to pesticides. Bacillus thuringiensis [Bt](on young caterpillars), Sevin™, or some other properly labeled insecticide should give more than adequate control.”

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.”

3/26/2024 3:50:23 PM
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