Why is there yellow pollen everywhere?
Source: Karen Warren/Houston Chronicle via Getty Images
- 2 min read

Why is there yellow pollen everywhere?

Oak season is alive and well in Austin, Texas. All that yellow dust is proof.

Advertisement

On this page
Introduction

Being destroyed by allergies is a normal part of Central Texas life. You know, right up there with dealing with I-35 traffic and braving an H-E-B on a Sunday.

And you know that weird yellow dust buildup on the hood of your car? Yeah, that's a telltale sign this is oak season in Texas and, unfortunately, it will last through May.

Austin’s beautiful and historic live oak trees are blooming and looking to reproduce. 

As you take your daily walks, you may have noticed small, caterpillar-shaped objects scattered on the ground. These are the male flowers of the oak tree, scientifically known as catkins. As the wind blows, the pollen from these catkins is carried in the air, hoping to land on the female flowers of other oak trees. Hello, reproduction.

“Oak trees are nearing peak pollen-shedding conditions and that usually happens mid-spring and will last a few weeks,” said Dr. Mike Arnold, director of the Gardens at Texas A&M University.

Yes, we've had some refreshing rain this spring that's helped fight the effects of airborne pollen. But between the rain events, when the leaves start to dry out, the oak pollen becomes more susceptible to being carried by the wind and can settle on everything in its path, including our noses. Womp womp.

Dr. Robert Butler — an ear, nose and throat specialist at Austin ENT Clinic — suggested some ways you can avoid encountering these allergens:

🌿 Avoid exposure to oak pollen by limiting your time outside on a breezy day.

🌼 Wear a mask while mowing the lawn or doing yard work.

🌱 Use air purifiers inside your house.

🌿 Use saline rinses for your sinuses every day. 

🌼 Use antihistamines and nasal steroids to suppress the allergic response.

🌱 Consider allergy testing and immunotherapy to attempt to block the body’s reaction to pollen.

It's not just your nose that'll get messy. Your car could, too.

“Because the yellow and green pollen get all over your windshield and car, people want to wash their cars every few days,” said John Borek, manager of the dinosaur-themed Jurassic Car Wash in South Austin. “So that makes April and May our busiest months of the year.” 

This type of pollen is easy to wash off your car, he said. But that’s the key: You need to wash it with soap and not wait for the rain, AKA Mother Nature’s free car wash. 

“You don’t need a high pH pre-soak soap to get this type of pollen off your car — that’s reserved for bugs, bird dropping, oils and grease,” Borek said. “You can use regular car soap and that will do the job.”

One more reason to treat yourself to a drive-thru car wash. Don't lie, you know it's fun.