The mountain laurels are in bloom in Central Texas. This is the time of year I walk around and any time I see a mountain laurel I take in a long, deep breath. I LOVE the smell when mountain laurels are blooming. It puts me in mind of grape bubble gum.
So while I enjoy the scent and beauty of the mountain laurel flowers, some people may be more concerned with insects they are finding on their
mountain laurels. The two common insects that I get questions about are the Red Mountain Laurel Mirid (mirids are plant bugs) and the Genista caterpillar.
Red mountain laurel mirids, Lopidea major, are quite stunning. They are smallish, flattened, oval-shaped bugs that are a striking red and black. These insects have piercing-sucking mouthparts that they use to feed on plant juices. While the feeding can cause damage to the leaves- often disfiguring new growth- they do not seem to harm the tree overall.
Genista caterpillars are yellow-green with black and white spots. They can grow to about 1 inch in length and will spin webbing on the mountain laurel. The larval (caterpillar) stage has chewing mouthparts and is damaging by feeding on foliage.
For management, treat as needed. You can try a contact insecticide on the mirids while a Bt kurstaki or spinosad product should work for the caterpillars.